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Mentoring Lions’ offensive line makes T.J. Lang ‘feel young’ again

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T.J. Lang talked about how working alongside young players has revitalized his career.

NFL: New York Giants at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The future of Detroit Lions right guard T.J. Lang has yet to be determined. The veteran offensive lineman has battled through some serious injuries in his two years since joining the Lions in 2017. Though he remains under contract for next season, many have circled his name as a potential cap casualty (Lions would save $8.8 million) or retirement candidate.

But this week, Lang took some time to reflect upon his career and talk about some of his favorite moments with the Trench Warfare podcast. One of the most interesting topics that came up with Lang was his transition from young player to seasoned veteran.

He started to feel that transition when Josh Sitton left the Packers in 2015, but he’s fully assumed that role in Detroit, where he is now everyone on the offensive line’s senior by at least two years. The only one who comes close to Lang’s age (31) is Rick Wagner (29). Graham Glasgow (26), Taylor Decker (25) and Frank Ragnow (22) all are at least a half decade behind.

But Lang is loving the transition and feels humbled by the experience of being the mentor in the locker room.

“First of all, it’s an incredible honor to be a guy that the young guys can come to and ask questions,” Lang said. “This year, when Frank Ragnow is coming up to me and he’s asking me questions, he’s asking to watch film, he’s asking about certain techniques I do, I’m really proud of that. It’s really an honor that these guys would choose me to come up to and ask these questions to because I’ve never really look at myself as a superstar type player.”

Though Lang’s 2018 season ended in Week 9 after suffering a season-ending neck injury, he stuck around the Lions training facility to help in any way that he could. Back at the end of the regular season, he admitted he helped break down weekly gameplans specific to the offensive line to help his young set of teammates succeed without him by their side on gameday.

And working with a fresh set of linemen apparently has benefits for a veteran like Lang. It’s helped him work through the physical pain of being a 10-year veteran.

“We’ve got a young group here in Detroit and it’s just been great, man,” Lang said on the podcast. “It makes me feel young every single day. I walk into that room, and I don’t really have anybody else that’s going through the same things I do with the aches and the pains and the 10 years of wear-and-tear. So it prevents me from complaining about it a little bit, which I guess masks it and makes it go away. So those guys just make me feel young, and it’s a really good group to be around.”

I highly recommend listening to the full podcast here. While he doesn’t go into his plans for the future, it’s a good 30 minutes of Lang talking about his progression through the NFL, his transition from defense to offense, and his legacy of playing seven(!!) different positions in the NFL.