T.J. Lang, Guard
Right guard T.J. Lang has been one of the most important free agent signings that general manager Bob Quinn has made. Coming to the Detroit Lions after eight seasons with the Green Bay Packers, the 31-year-old became an immediate upgrade on a struggling offensive line.
Lang has brought in a veteran presence to a fairly young line, and has been one of the best performing lineman for the Lions, allowing only two sacks in two years with the team. With his abilities in both run blocking and pass protection, as well as his leadership presence in the locker room, Lang has been a great addition to the team.
According to Pro Football Focus, Lang earned their 6th highest pass blocking grade at his position this season. And the veteran guard allowed his only sack this year against the Vikings in Week Nine.
The two-time Pro Bowler is everything Detroit needs in an offensive lineman, but his health has become a liability. Lang has missed six games over two seasons due to injury. On top of that, he has not been able to play an entire game this season, and he won’t be able to now that he is out for the season on injured reserve.
Filling in for him is backup guard Kenny Wiggins, who’s play has been less than ideal. Wiggins has played in Lang’s place for at least one snap in every game this season, and has three starts at right guard so far this season. In his 328 snaps, he has allowed 4.25 sacks and committed two false start penalties.
Wiggins is expected to take on the starting role for the rest of the season now that Lang is out for the season. The only other depth at the position are offensive lineman Joe Dahl and Tyrell Crosby, who have barely touched the field this season. Crosby was a fifth-round pick this year and has experience at guard, so the Lions may want to see how well the rookie can do as a starter.
It is disappointing to see injuries end a career, but with six concussions on top of several neck, back, and knee injuries over ten seasons, it might be time for Lang to look toward retirement.