Detroit Lions’ guard T.J. Lang seeks advice from concussion specialists

Lang back at practice, could play Sunday

ALLEN PARK — T.J. Lang spent part of his bye week examining his health, in particular the latest concussion that he suffered on Sept. 30.

The Detroit Lions starting right guard has practiced this week and could be back in the lineup for Sunday’s game at the Miami Dolphins. He missed the Oct. 7 win over the Green Bay Packers and Wednesday was the first day he practiced since the injury.

“I feel pretty good, back to the normal routine,’’ Lang said on Thursday after practice. He stopped short of guaranteeing he will be on the field at Miami but seemed confident that would happen.

It was not his first concussion and the 31-year-old Lang did not take it lightly.

“Dating back to last week and even two weeks ago I tried not to make too big of a deal about it. Obviously I’ve been down this road before,’’ Lang said. “The older you get the more you start to think. The guys here — the trainers, doctors, everybody that is involved in my personal life — did a good job setting me up with high-end experts, doctors, neurologists that I could talk to. I reached out to a lot of them and tried to gather as much information as I could. I would say most of those meetings are pretty positive.’’

He wouldn’t go into detail on the information he culled because as he said, “I’m just not that smart.”

His wife went on a few of the appointments with him.

“She seems to be pretty worked up about some of the head stuff with obviously everything that is going on in the public. At the end of the day you have to make a conscious educated decision to move forward. I think I gathered enough information to feel comfortable to continue to play when I’m feeling good,’’ Lang said.

He said he saw three or four specialists to gather information on former players and CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). He wanted to know if concussion are overblown in the media. Also is the information out there accurate.

“The biggest question I had was, ‘Do you think I”ll be safe to return once I’m fully back healthy?’ And I think most of them said, ‘Yes.’ That gave me a lot of comfort knowing that when this is all settled and done, basically set the reset button and continue to play,”’ Lang said.

A few of the specialists had different opinions.

“For the most part it was you’d be fine to play, I don’t think there’ll be ramifications down the line if you continue to play,’’ Lang said. “There were some tough conversations, you have to have those conversations no matter what injury you have. …

“For me the biggest thing was I feel like I have teammates in this locker room that are counting on me to be out there and to play at a high level , that’s something that’s always driven me and will continue to drive me,’’ Lang said. “So I don’t know if its the brightest way to look at it when you’re comparing your health. At the same time it’s all I really know and I want to be known as a dependable guy.’’

His wife, his mother and his children all factor into his decisions.

“My kids are old enough to watch the games now and notice when something is wrong,’’ Lang said. “All that goes through your mind, it’s human nature. At the end of the day I try to explain that I’ll be all right.’’

Detroit Lions’ offensive line plays best game in win over Patriots

Run game exploded; Stafford sacked just once

ALLEN PARK — Without a smart and strong offensive line, the Lions run game was going nowhere this season.

The O-line played its best game early this season in the 26-10 win over the Patriots on Sunday night at Ford Field.

The Lions rushed for 159 yards and rookie Kerryon Johnson became the first Lions player to reach 100 yards in a game since Reggie Bush scampered for 117 yards on Nov. 28, 2013.

“That’s obviously a critical part of every football game, I think (the line) did a great job up front, definitely very difficult against that defense and the multiple looks they’ll give you,’’ coach Matt Patricia said on Monday. “They were spinning the dial pretty good last night with a couple different looks — four-man rushes, five-man looks, six-man looks and I think those guys did a great job up font of recognizing that stuff, getting on the same page, executing their blocks well. There were a couple plays they could have done better, but I thought we had good movement at the line of scrimmage which is most important.’’

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Pro Football Focus’ analysis of the line: “(They) performed exceptionally well against New England. Not a single starting lineman graded below a 65 and three of them graded at 70 or better.’’

Ragnow, who allowed seven pressures the previous week to the 49ers, came back with a “dominant performance.” He didn’t allow a single pressure against the Patriots, per Pro Football Focus.

The Lions O-line features two first-round picks — Taylor Decker (2016) and Frank Ragnow, a rookie. Also center Graham Glasgow was a third-round pick in 2016.

Right guard T.J. Lang returned after missing the previous game with a back injury. Lang, who signed as a free agent in 2017, proved he’s still got something in the tank because the line was more effective with him than the previous week with Kenny Wiggins.

Right tackle Rick Wagner, who was also signed as a free agent in 2017,  quietly had a good game.

Not only did they open lanes for the running backs, they also gave Matthew Stafford plenty of time in the pocket. It’s possible more time than he’s ever had consistently for four quarters. He was sacked just once.

Immediately after the game, Stafford couldn’t say enough about the line’s play.

Stafford has been sacked on just 2.2 percent of pass attempts (3/138) this season which is the best in the NFL. The league average is 6.6 percent, per Josh Norris of Rotoworld.

Five things to watch as Detroit Lions host New England Patriots; also prediction

New England defense without 3 sstarters

After what can best be described as a disappointing start to the season, the Lions face their toughest opponent so far when they host the New England Patriots tonight at Ford Field.

“Did they win the Super Bowl last year?” asked Glover Quin, possibly trying to downplay the Patriots’ elite status. Well, of course they didn’t win it, but they were in it.

New England is off to a 1-1 start and the offense needs some work but they have Tom Brady (five touchdowns, 1 interception). The Patriots’ defense, which has allowed 25.5 points per game, will be missing defensive lineman Trey Flowers, along with safety Patrick Chung and cornerback Eric Rowe. All three started last week and have been ruled out for this game due to injury.

Meanwhile, Matthew Stafford is off to an inglorious start with four touchdowns and four interceptions. He’s been off on connecting with receivers on the long ball. Just not a good look so far.

Of course all eyes will be on Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia, his disciple and former defensive coordinator. They will be a part of the story on Sunday night even though they both try to dismiss the attention.

Five things to watch:

1. Stafford has to have a better game. They don’t win unless this offense gets turned around. Since he’s the quarterback he gets the blame or the credit. “I have to make sure I give those guys (Golden Tate, Marvin Jones Jr.) chances, No. 1, and then when they do beat those guys just make sure I put it on them,’’ Stafford said.

2. The offensive line had a better Week 2. Left tackle Taylor Decker didn’t practice on Friday but it wasn’t an injury situation and he’s expected to play tonight. The line was without right guard T.J. Lang last week, but he practiced this week and should start.

3. Detroit’s secondary against Brady will be a tough matchup. It could be worse if cornerback Darius Slay (concussion) does not play. He participated in practice on Friday for the first time all week but it’s unclear if he’ll be ready to go. Slay gives the Lions’ defense the best chance of being able to stop Brady and his gang.

4. After missing last week, defensive end Ziggy Ansah is expected to play — he’s practiced this week. Ansah and the line have to put pressure on Brady, keep him in the pocket. They sacked Jimmy Garoppolo six times, but he holds onto the ball longer so don’t give that stat too much value. Brady has been sacked four times in the first two games.

5. The Lions run game has slightly improved. They’re up to 4.3 yards per catch which is 1.1 yards better than last season. In the first two games, the Lions fell so far behind they had to resort to the pass to try to catch up. Kerryon Johnson (4.6 yards per carry) has just 13 touches in the first two weeks. If the Lions can stay in the game, he could get more of the load. LeGarrette Blount, a former Patriot, has proven he’s still got gas in the tank.

PREDICTION: Patriots 27, Lions 24.