Lang Proves He Can Adapt

Fourth-round draft choice T.J. Lang is more than likely going to be thrown into the mix to possibly start at right tackle this season for the Packers. But if they decide to move him around to try some different spots, he’s already proven his ability to adjust. - More Packers 2009 Draft Page


Fourth-round draft choice T.J. Lang is more than likely going to be thrown into the mix to possibly start at right tackle this season for the Packers.

But if they decide to move him around to try some different spots, he's already proven his ability to adjust.

Lang, whom the Packers selected with the 109th overall pick, originally came to Eastern Michigan as a defensive tackle, and he played his freshman season there.

But with a starting spot there not immediately on the horizon, and with his team thin on the offensive line heading into his sophomore season, Lang made the switch to offensive tackle. He was a starter from Day 1 there and went on to start 36 straight games at both right and left tackle over his final three seasons.

"My coach knew I had experience playing tackle in high school, so he came to me, we talked about it, and we felt comfortable that it would best help the team and best help my own situation getting me on the field to play," Lang said. "It was based on numbers. I was able to go over there and was able to help the team that way."

Packers offensive line coach James Campen said Lang has the potential to help the Packers at any of the spots on the offensive line. The 6-foot-4, 316-pounder spent a week at guard during the Texas vs. The Nation all-star game in January, and even though he's never snapped in a game, Campen said he has some center traits as well.

"We'll wait to evaluate that once we get him in here, work with him through OTAs and what-not, and see what position would best fit him," Campen said. "The kid can play it all."

It would seem the Packers would give him every chance to be a tackle. With a possible replacement needed on the right side this season for Mark Tauscher, who is coming off reconstructive knee surgery and remains unsigned, and a future replacement needed for 10-year veteran Chad Clifton, Lang's experience at tackle - 10 starts on the right side as a sophomore and 26 at left tackle thereafter - would put him in the mix immediately with fourth-year pro Tony Moll, third-year lineman Allen Barbre and second-year man Breno Giacomini as a rookie.

"We feel very fortunate we got a player that provides some flexibility initially, and we'll certainly try to hone him into one position if we can do that," Campen said.

"He's a very tough football player, a high-effort player. As you know he's a converted D-lineman, and he plays with a D-lineman's mentality. Very physical."

While the credentials of players from non-BCS schools is often questioned, Lang proved himself in the Mid-American Conference in Eastern Michigan's annual battle with Northern Illinois. Northern's top defensive end, Larry English, who was drafted in the first round (16th overall) Saturday by the San Diego Chargers, went head-to-head with Lang three straight years.

Lang said he never gave up a sack to English, but those confrontations were some of the more memorable of his college career.

"We definitely had our battles," Lang said. "He was a tough player and I think we had a mutual respect for each other. Every time we came out to play each other, we knew it was going to be a battle.

"He always had a motor and just never gives up. He's one of the top guys I went against my whole career. I have respect for him and he's a great player, and I think we got the best of each other a few times."

{sportsad300}Lang had come to Green Bay on a pre-draft visit and said he felt comfortable almost immediately. Campen said he did well talking X's and O's with the coaches, and he even took a joke at the coaches' expense.

Campen related the story of when he, Lang and assistant offensive line coach Jerry Fontenot were having lunch during Lang's visit, and Lang noticed outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene across the room. A bit in awe he was in the same room with a multiple All-Pro like Greene, Campen and Fontenot introduced the two with the line, "T.J. thinks he can take you right now, one-on-one."

"Kevin stared him down and had a little fun with that," Campen said. "T.J. is a great character himself. He has great respect for the game."

A slightly under-the-radar prospect, Lang was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in February, being told by the Combine director that he missed an invite by one vote. But he made up for it with a strong pro day and ended up making several pre-draft visits, including the one to Green Bay, and has since said the Combine snub "doesn't matter."

"Once I left the (Packers') facility I told my agent I could see myself playing in Green Bay," Lang said. "Just the type of guys I liked, the coaches, loved everything about them. It's a smaller town and seemed like a hard-working type of city, type of team, and that's what I'm all about. I definitely feel comfortable coming there."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content


Action Needed: Update your Packers Mobile App!

Fans attending any games during the 2023 season should update their Packers mobile app due to important upgrades and enhancements.