GREEN BAY – As much as he wanted to play, T.J. Lang had to admit that things couldn’t have worked out much better than they did during Sunday night’s 27-20 victory over the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field.
The Green Bay Packers veteran offensive lineman did dress and was active for the game, despite the badly sprained left ankle he suffered last week against Minnesota, but rookie Don Barclay made his first NFL start at right tackle and Evan Dietrich-Smith continued to start at left guard, allowing Lang to avoid further damage.
“Today, was really best-case for me – have the guys go out and play well, nobody get hurt and give me some time to heal up,” Lang said. “We can keep the ankle stable, we just have to try to control the pain a little bit. That was my biggest issue yesterday and Friday.”
Lang was very limited in practice on Friday and warmed up before the game, but the decision to have him active only in case of emergency was made before he and Barclay even arrived at Lambeau Field. Had Lang been deactivated, the only backup lineman the Packers would have had available would have been rookie Greg Van Roten, who saw action as an extra blocker on a handful of run plays.
Lang said that the rest was beneficial but that he expects to practice this week in advance of next Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, where the Packers would lock up the division title with a victory.
“I think the goal is definitely to continue to heal this week and get back (for the Bears),” Lang said. “Today, if I had to play, I probably would have been pushing it a little bit. It’s one of those things that it just needed a little bit of time to heal. The last thing I wanted was to go out and bang it up today and have a setback for me for the rest of the year. I knew today was going to be emergency guy, if anything happened to those guys. But they got it done up front, gave me a chance to rest up. The goal is definitely to get back to practice this week and be back on the field next week (against the Bears).”
Asked if he expects to be back on the field at his old position (left guard) or his most recent one (right tackle), Lang replied: “I don’t know. We haven’t discussed any of that. Friday when I was out there (in practice) I was taking reps at a few different spots. It’s not up to me. It’s up to the coaches. I’ll just be prepared wherever they want me to play.”
For his part, Barclay did well in his first NFL start. Just as wasn’t perfect last week against the Vikings after Lang’s injury, Barclay needed some help in pass protection – reserve tight end D.J. Williams seemed to line up next to him on every pass play, putting a hit on the defensive end before running his route – but held up well. He also continued to be a force as a run-blocker.
Barclay said he learned of the coaches’ decision to start him when he got to the stadium around 3:45.
“It was kind of up in the air the whole time,” Barclay said. “I prepared like I was starting the whole week, and when T.J. was out there Friday moving around, he felt good, he was looking good. Even today … the whole week, I wasn’t sure. And when I came in here today I found out.”
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