T.J. Lang excited to return home to Michigan

Mar 12, 2017 | by Tim Twentyman, detroitlions.com

Bob Quinn said at the NFL Scouting Combine he was excited to see what Detroit’s offensive line would look like in 2017. Quinn knew there would inevitably be change upfront via free agency, and he had a plan of attack going in.

Less than a week into free agency, it’s now clear Detroit will look much different upfront next season.

Quinn lured established veteran right tackle Rick Wagner to sign with the Lions in the opening days of free agency. On Sunday, he convinced former Packers Pro Bowl guard T.J. Lang to come back home to Detroit.

Lang, a Royal Oak native, attended Birmingham Brother Rice High School and then went on to star at Eastern Michigan University before being drafted by the Green Bay Packers, where he played his first eight seasons professionally.

“This is where I grew up,” Lang said on a conference call Sunday of returning home to play with the Lions. “I understand how fans around here are so hungry to have a championship football team. I was one of them as a kid.

“Not to be cliché, but every kid dreams about playing for their hometown team. I was no different and when this opportunity came about I got really excited about it.”

Lang owned Scott Mitchell and Charlie Batch jerseys growing up, and thinks it's pretty cool that now his son will be able to wear a T.J. Lang Lions jersey.

Being able to stay around Detroit with his family and being a part of what Lang thinks is something special brewing with the Lions, were the two biggest factors in his decision to sign in Detroit, he said.

Lang, 29, made the Pro Bowl last season after not allowing a single sack or quarterback hit, which is pretty remarkable. Pair him with Wagner, who allowed just two sacks all of 2016, and the right side of Detroit’s offensive line could be pretty strong.

After drafting three offensive linemen last season, including starting left tackle Taylor Decker, Quinn has made retooling Detroit’s offensive line a major priority early on in his tenure.

Lang went to dinner with Wagner last Thursday while they both were on their free-agent visits, and Lang said he spoke with a number of his other new linemates Sunday morning.

“The last thing I relayed to them all was I really feel like we can form one of the best units in the league with all the talent we have,” he said.

Lang underwent hip surgery this offseason to finally take care of a lingering issue he’s dealt with the last few seasons, but says he’ll be back on the field and ready to go by the start of training camp.

“I’ll definitely be ready by training camp,” he confirmed. “No doubt about it. I know that was a big story the past couple weeks, but it’s nothing but a positive.

“This is something that I’ve been dealing with for a number of years. Has always caused me a pretty good amount of pain at some point in the season, so it’s really been three or four seasons since I came into training camp 100 percent healthy and I really feel like that’s where I’m going to be this year.”

Finally healthy and now back home, Lang seems pretty excited about Detroit’s revamped offensive line.