At the end of last season, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel rated the performance of individual Green Bay Packers, including offensive guard T.J. Lang. The newspaper described Lang as a great run blocker and an improving pass protector, especially against stuns, and added that while Lang was a little slow getting to the second level, he had allowed just two sacks in 2013 and 2014 combined and was the team’s enforcer.
Lang’s overall grade? A solid B.
“Well, it’s actually surprising getting compliments because the media up here for so long was just so critical about the offensive line,” Lang said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Back in the years when Aaron was getting sacked 50+ times a season, it was rough times. But yeah, I do agree with most of it. I feel like last year, it was probably my first time in my career where I really felt like I had a home at right guard there. I made the switch the year before (and) had a little bit of (a) learning curve there moving from the left side to the right side. It was tough. It was a tough adjustment. The year before that, I had played just about every position on the line. Last year was really the first year I got to play the whole season at one position and just really hone in on my skills there and continue to focus on one spot and it really helped me grow as a player. I do feel like I’m coming off my best year, and it makes a lot of excitement for me moving forward. I feel I have a lot that I can continue to grow on and build. It’s just such a great place to play here. You really don’t want to be the weak link out there when you’re playing so it really motivates you that much more. You just continue to work hard and continue to get better.”
That’s especially true given that the Packers will be without Jordy Nelson this season. The Pro Bowler tore his ACL during a preseason game against the Steelers last month.
“It was definitely tough,” Lang said of Nelson’s injury. “For me, it was weird timing because he got hurt a couple plays into the first series, and nobody really knew anything. And then later in the quarter, I ended up going to the locker room with concussion-like symptoms and that’s when I saw Jordy. I was devastated personally. There’s really not another guy that works as hard as Jordy does. He’s in the building every single day. We probably have four or five guys who live here in the offseason, and he’s up here the majority of the time working out – just always doing the right things. He’s one of the role models you have on the team. My heart just sank for him.”
Lang said the team was pretty deflated for a day or two, but ultimately they knew they needed to get back to work.
“This is football,” Lang said. “It’s not going to change. We got to find a way to go out here and not necessarily replace him – he’s a guy that you can’t really replace easily – but we got to find different ways to be creative and make up for that production that he was giving us. I don’t want to say there’s a silver lining in anybody getting hurt, but it give us a couple weeks before the season opens to really make sure we take a good look at what we’ve got on offense before we go into the season running. We’ve got a lot of production there to replace. You definitely feel bad for the guy, but that type of stuff happens to every team every single year in the NFL. It’s something you just got to adjust (to) and you got to find different ways to work around it.”