GREEN BAY – T.J. Lang knows the names as well as anyone: Greg Jennings. Clay Matthews. B.J. Raji. Jermichael Finley. And, oh yeah, Aaron Rodgers.
That said, the Green Bay Packers fourth-year left guard is hoping that his name is also in the mix of players the team wants to re-sign long-term.
Speaking on Tuesday’s edition of Green & Gold Today, Lang said that he hasn’t heard from the Packers on a possible contract extension, but he also hasn’t spent a lot of time worrying about the fact that he’s entering the final season of the four-year deal he signed as a fourth-round draft pick out of Eastern Michigan in 2009.
“I think it’s still pretty early in the process to worry about that stuff,” Lang said. “I try not to think about it because I know it can cause some stress for some guys, talking to a few guys last year that were in their contract year. So I try not to think about it the best I can. The way I look at it, I signed a four-year deal, I’m ready to play that out. If anything happens where the Packers want to jump in and start talking about extensions, then that would be fantastic. But
“Obviously I’d like to be a Packer for a long time. But I understand it’s a business. We’ve got a lot of guys who are going to be pretty pricey coming up here in the next couple years that are going to be free agents, so I’m sure up in the front office those guys are looking at all those things and weighing their options. I’m not stressing about it, but when that time comes, hopefully something good happens.”
Lang settled into the left guard spot last season after beating out rookie first-round pick Derek Sherrod in training camp for the starting job. After starting three games as a fill-in as a rookie in 2009, Lang started all 17 games last season (including playoffs), one of only two players on offense (center Scott Wells being the other) not to miss a start.
According to ProFootballFocus.com, Lang ranked seventh in the NFL among guards in pass-blocking efficiency, allowing only 11 pressures in more than 500 snaps of pass protection. In 1,157 total snaps on the year, Lang allowed 11 pressures, two sacks and one quarterback hit. He committed six false-start penalties, including two each against New Orleans in the opener and against Chicago on Sept. 25, but was never flagged again after the team’s Nov. 6 victory in San Diego.
“That probably broke some records around here,” Lang joked.
Actually, the coaches were quite happy with Lang last season – “T.J. had a great year last year,” new offensive coordinator Tom Clements said following the team’s first open organized team activity practice last week – but Lang believes he has plenty of room for improvement now that he’s staying at one position.
“Looking back on it, it was definitely a challenging beginning of the season for me,” Lang said. “I was playing productive, but the thing that hindered my performance was the penalties I was having. That definitely was a negative when I look back on the season, and that’s something that later in the year I got a lot better at. I didn’t have a lot of penalties throughout the last eight games, so I look at that, I’m proud of the way I responded to that.
“Overall, I think I played stronger as the year went on. I started getting more comfortable at that left guard spot, and for me, last year, everybody knows my goal was to go in and earn that starting spot at that left guard position and just settle down in one spot to call my own. It was amazing. It was awesome to know I wasn’t playing five positions where I was OK at all of them but not great at one of them. And to be a starter, that allowed me to, every day I knew exactly what I had to do, I could focus on the playbook at one spot and the comfort level for me was better towards the end of the year.”
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