GREEN BAY – At age 26 and entering his sixth NFL season, T.J. Lang finally knows where the training room is. And as one of the Green Bay Packers’ resident tough guys, the veteran guard has realized that it doesn’t make him soft.
So while it’s killed him to be essentially miss the first three days of training camp with a lingering shoulder injury – he tapped his replacement, Don Barclay, on the shoulder and replaced him for one 11-on-11 rep in practice Monday – Lang might be better for it in the long run because of the lesson the injury is teaching him.
“You know with offensive linemen, you have that attitude that you can play through things,” Lang said Monday, explaining that he didn’t do anything specifically to the shoulder during the offseason that caused an injury. “Throughout the years of playing, you start to feel things catch up to you a little bit. So there’s just times you need to take a step back and get back on the right track and get healthy, and that’s something I’m doing right now.”
And that’s something that in the past, Lang wouldn’t have done.
“It’s tough to [sit out]. It comes down to a pride thing,” said Lang, who’s been replaced on the No. 1 offensive line by Barclay, the team’s versatile sixth lineman. “You don’t really like sitting on the sideline watching people take your reps or watching your teammates out there working hard and having to settle to watch.
“I’ve been a guy in the past that probably didn’t do as much stuff as I should do to take care of my body, and I’m not a guy that likes to spend a lot of time in the training room. But you talk to a lot of older guys and you get some tips, and it’s getting to a point with both [left guard] Josh [Sitton] and I that a big focal point is taking care of our bodies and the small things to make sure that you’re staying healthy.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he isn’t worried about Lang’s injury being a long term issue, and Lang said tests showed that there isn’t any significant structural damage to his shoulder.
Lang, who has played in 75 of a possible 80 games in his first five seasons, said he expects to return to practice following Tuesday’s players day off.
“I was trying to get a couple reps in there today [but] the coaches and the trainers just want to take it slow right now,” Lang said. “For me, it’s just about getting confidence in what feels good. I’m trying out a couple different things – tape and braces. But I did three or four different things today and I was happy with how it went.
“Each day, my shoulder keeps improving, and I’m going to be back either Wednesday or Thursday. I’m going to be back out there full time.”
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