T.J. Lang

North Notes: McCarthy, Lions, Tuitt, Ravens

Mike McCarthy‘s enjoyed the benefit of coaching two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, and the Packers have qualified for nine playoff brackets in the coach’s 12 previous seasons. But with the team in danger of missing the NFC bracket for the second straight season, McCarthy appears to be firmly on the hot seat. The 13th-year Green Bay coach’s job status is “pretty clearly” uncertain regarding 2019, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). McCarthy signed a one-year extension to take him through the ’19 season, so the team isn’t committed long-term here. He’s now reporting to team president Mark Murphy under the post-Ted Thompson power structure, and with Brian Gutekunst now GM, different voices will have a say if McCarthy will be brought back.

That’s the job. That’s the way this business has gone,” McCarthy said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, when asked about his status. “I’m not going to get into comparables, but at the end of the day that’s part of the job responsibility of the head coachWe set a standard here the past 12 years and it’s our responsibility to play to that standard.”

The Packers are venturing near must-win territory if they want to secure their ninth playoff berth in 10 seasons. They face the Vikings in Minnesota next week.

Here’s the latest from the North divisions:

  • The post-Megatron Lions relied on the Marvin JonesGolden Tate tandem. For the first time since Calvin Johnson retired, neither will suit up for Detroit. Jones is out for Sunday’s game against the Panthers after missing practice this week, and ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein reports the veteran Lions wideout is seeking a second opinion on his injured right knee. Initial tests revealed no damage to Jones’ ACL or MCL, and Jones was diagnosed with a bone bruise. He’ll miss only his second game as a Lion. T.J. Jones would likely be the starter in Marvin Jones‘ place.
  • T.J. Lang‘s Lions tenure hasn’t gone as smoothly from a health standpoint. The former Pro Bowl guard landed on IR this week because of a neck injury, but that setback is not believed to be career-threatening, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports. Lang also suffered a concussion that forced him to miss time earlier this season. He only played in six games this season after missing three in 2017. Set for his age-32 season next year, Lang — with an $11.1MM cap number — will be a release candidate in the offseason. The Lions could save more than $8MM by releasing the acclaimed blocker. Lang is due a $500K roster bonus on the fourth day of the upcoming league year.
  • Darius Slay, however, will be back for the Lions after missing Week 10. Bears wideout Allen Robinson gouged the Lions in Slay’s absence, but the All-Pro cornerback was not on the injury report as of Friday and will return Sunday.
  • While the 2018 Jaguars haven’t been the kind of impediment the 2017 version was, the Steelers will be without a key starter in their attempt to beat a team that went 2-0 against them last season. Stephon Tuitt will miss Sunday’s game with an elbow injury he sustained against the Panthers. Tyson Alualu will start in Tuitt’s place up front, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Although Robert Griffin III has been mentioned as a possible Ravens starter Sunday, the expectation remains Lamar Jackson will take the reins, Jeff Zreibec of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Jackson’s hospital trip Thursday, coupled with Joe Flacco‘s hip injury, left Griffin as the Ravens’ lone practice quarterback that day. But Jackson returned to practice Friday.

Lions’ T.J. Lang Done For Year

Lions guard T.J. Lang has been placed on injured reserve due to a neck injury, according to a team announcement. The move will end Lang’s season and may mark the end of his time in Detroit. 

[RELATED: Vikings Claim Former Lions RB Ameer Abdullah]

Lang, 31, left the Packers in 2017 to sign with their divisional rival. At the time, the Packers were widely slammed for allowing Lang to get away, but they may have made the smart move in hindsight. Thanks to injuries, Lang missed three games last season and appeared in just six games this year.

This offseason, the Lions can release Lang to save $9MM against the cap. The move would leave them with just $2.6MM in dead money and it’s something of a no-brainer, despite the two-time Pro Bowler’s past accomplishments.

In a related move, the Lions promoted cornerback Mike Ford off the practice squad. Even after swapping Lang for Ford, the Lions have one more vacant spot to fill on their 53-man roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Notes: Gronk, Mack, Pack, Eagles

A third Rob Gronkowski injury absence appears to be in the cards. The Patriots will not deploy their All-Pro tight end to play Sunday against the Titans, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. While Gronkowski is traveling with the team to Nashville, per ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss (on Twitter), he’s expected to be held out. Gronk missed games against the Bears and Packers but played in Buffalo on the Monday night in between those tilts. He’s been dealing with back and ankle trouble. While the Patriots have been able to win without their top pass-catcher, these repeated absences are obviously a concern for the future Hall of Famer’s availability for New England’s stretch run and potentially his post-2018 NFL future. It’s likely the Pats are attempting to rest Gronk now to hopefully see him healthy for key late-season games and the playoffs, but that can’t be considered a lock given his extensive injury history. Gronkowski hitting his incentive targets may now be unrealistic as well.

Here’s the latest from the Week 10 injury front.

  • Better news for the Bears. They’re in line to have both Khalil Mack and Allen Robinson back on Sunday when they face the Lions, per the Associated Press. Mack is no longer on the injury report after missing the past two Chicago games because of an ankle malady. His defensive player of the year chances took a hit because of this hiatus and Aaron Donald continuing another all-world season but Mack figures to still be in the running and can help a team attempting reach the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
  • The Lions‘ Robinson coverage options will be limited. Darius Slay is out for Week 10, joining guard T.J. Lang in that regard. Slay’s played in each of Detroit’s previous eight games and hasn’t missed time since 2016 but is battling a knee injury. A neck ailment will sideline Lang, who also missed time because of a concussion this season.
  • A tough injury night against the Patriots will have after-effects for the Packers. Kevin King will not play Sunday against the Dolphins because of a hamstring injury. Bashaud Breeland, whom ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky notes appeared to impress the Packers in his Green Bay debut, figures to see more time.
  • Both Sidney Jones and Jalen Mills are going to miss Sunday night’s Eagles-Cowboys game, but Corey Graham will return after missing four games, per Sirius XM Radio’s Adam Caplan (on Twitter). After claiming Cre’Von LeBlanc off waivers earlier this week, surely due to injuries affecting the aforementioned duo, the Eagles have seven corners on their roster.
  • Taco Charlton and Connor Williams aren’t playing for the Cowboys on Sunday. Xavier Su’a-Filo appears to be the choice to replace Williams at left guard for Dallas, per executive VP Stephen Jones (Twitter link). A full-time Texans starter the past two seasons, Su’a-Filo has not played this season. Williams is down with a knee injury.

Extra Points: Gordon, Pats, Lee, Giants, Lions

In a development that’s sure to prompt thousands of early phone alarms Sunday morning, Melvin Gordon has been downgraded to questionable. The Chargers‘ top threat is now a true game-time decision to play against the Titans in London, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Considering this is an 8:30am CT game, this will obviously test the commitment of Gordon’s North American-based fantasy owners while putting the Bolts down one of their best players. Gordon was a limited participant in Friday’s practice, but as ESPN’s Eric Williams notes (on Twitter), wasn’t listed on the injury report until Saturday. A hamstring malady places Gordon’s availability for Week 7 in question. The Chargers took precautions against a Gordon absence by promoting Detrez Newsome from their practice squad. Since finishing his first two NFL seasons on IR, Gordon has played in 22 straight games and emerged as one of the league’s best backs.

Here’s the latest from around the league:

  • The Cowboys will have the services of Sean Lee on Sunday against the Redskins. Lee is not on Dallas’ injury report for its game against Washington. He missed the past three games because of a hamstring strain, opening the door for first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch to log plenty of playing time. Vander Esch responded and enters Week 7 as Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 overall linebacker. Lee, Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith will split time in Dallas’ nickel package, Todd Archer of ESPN.com notes.
  • A disastrous Giants start will result in more changes to their maligned offensive line. Big Blue will bench free agent guard pickup Patrick Omameh and move center John Greco to guard on Monday night, Dan Duggan of The Athletic reports (subscription required). Former Chargers starting center Spencer Pulley will move into the role of Giants first-string snapper, Duggan adds. Omameh suffered a knee injury in practice this week, but Duggan notes this decision was made prior to that occurring. PFF slots the former Jaguars starter as its No. 67 guard (out of 73 full-time players at this position). He’s signed to a three-year, $15MM deal. Pulley, who started all 16 games for the Chargers last season, landed in New York via post-preseason waiver claim. Pulley will join Greco and right tackle Chad Wheeler as replacement starters for this year’s Giants front.
  • Despite logging three limited practices this week, Ziggy Ansah will not return for the Lions on Sunday. Detroit declared its top pass rusher out for a fifth straight game. The franchise-tagged defensive end said (via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press) like he felt like he could play, but the Lions will continue to soldier on without him. He’s been trying to surmount a shoulder injury since exiting in Week 1 because of it.
  • T.J. Lang, however, will return to the Lions’ lineup. The veteran guard missed two games because of a concussion and sought medical advice from several doctors, per Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. While Lang’s return will be a welcome sight for Lions fans, Meinke does not expect Detroit to keep him around in 2019. The final year of Lang’s Lions deal comes with an $11.7MM cap hit. It would save the Lions $9MM if they cut Lang, for whom they authorized a $9.5MM-AAV deal in 2017.
  • Rob Gronkowski is almost certainly going to miss the Patriots-Bears game, with ankle and back trouble keeping the all-world tight end home after his team departed for Chicago. But the Patriots will also be without backup Jacob Hollister, the team announced. This leaves Dwayne Allen as the only healthy tight end available. The former Colt has one catch this season. The Pats still haven’t declared Gronk out, which would make for an interesting sequence of events were he to play without boarding the team plane.

Injury Notes: Lang, Wright, Cravens, Peterson

Lions offensive guard T.J. Lang is still in the concussion protocol after having suffered his sixth career brain injury, but the team is still expecting the veteran to be back at some point this season. The 31-year-old was even in the building last week helping the team prepare for their matchup against his former team, the Packers.

“He was in the room to be able to talk through some of the Green Bay stuff,” offensive line coach Jeff Davidson told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “I try to talk to him about some of the personnel things that he knows. That’s the only thing I had to do as far as commenting on T.J. Looking forward to him going forward.”

The offensive lineman previously said that he’ll continue to play football as long as his body holds up. Lang has also dealt with back, ankle and shoulder injuries during his tenure in Detroit.

Let’s check out some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • While there’s still optimism surrounding Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright‘s return to the field, it won’t happen this weekend. ESPN’s Brady Henderson writes that the veteran will miss this weekend’s London matchup against the Raiders. Wright is still recovering from knee surgery, and head coach Pete Carroll said there’s no use in rushing him back. “He’ll run all throughout the week,” said Carroll. “It’s going to be too much to ask of him to get him back this game. I think we’ve got to make sure and take care of him and get him strong and confident and all that … I think we just need to maximize his opportunity to be at full strength, really recovered and confident and all that.”
  • Su’a Cravens is currently sitting on the injured reserve with a knee injury, but Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets that the Broncos safety is expected to return to practice next week. The 23-year-old is eligible to return following his team’s game against the Rams this weekend, and the organization will have three weeks to activate him. The 2016 second-round pick was acquired from the Redskins back in March, and he’ll be looking to crack a depth chart that already includes Darian StewartJustin Simmons, and Will Parks.
  • There seemed to be a difference in opinions when it came to Adrian Peterson‘s injury. ESPN’s John Keim tweets that the Redskins running back described the injury as a dislocation, while head coach Jay Gruden simply referred to it as a strain. Peterson underwent an MRI earlier today, and the tests ultimately revealed a strain (via USA Today’s Mike Jones on Twitter). The 33-year-old has compiled 242 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 60 carries this season.

NFC Notes: Thomas, Garoppolo, Griffen

The obscene parting shot that Seahawks safety Earl Thomas made in the direction of his team’s bench as he was being carted off the field last week was not directed at any one person or player, but at the Seattle organization as a whole, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. And, even though all signs were already pointing towards a parting of the ways between Thomas, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, and the only NFL team he has ever known, Schefter reports that the Seahawks are not expected to use the franchise tag on Thomas, which all but ensures that he will not return to Seattle in 2019.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that Thomas will have surgery to have a rod inserted in his leg this week, which will increase his chances of healing while lowering his chances of a re-fracture, so he is expected to be fully healthy well before free agency officially opens in March.

Now for more from the NFC, starting with another item out of Seattle:

  • Seahawks LB Mychal Kendricks was hit with an indefinite suspension earlier this week, and Schefter reports that Kendricks, his lawyers, and the NFLPA are still battling to prove that the NFL does not have the right to impose such a ban in his case. Instead, Kendricks is arguing that the league should suspend him for a specific number of games, thereby allowing him to return to action this season and play until he receives his sentence for insider trading in January.
  • In keeping with a report from several days ago that 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo underwent successful surgery on his torn ACL, Rapoport tweets that Garoppolo faces a relatively obstacle-free rehab. His ACL was the only thing that needed to be repaired, so he is expected to make a full recovery.
  • We heard at the end of last month that there was no definite timeline for Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen to return to the team, and Schefter reported today that Griffen is not expected to return anytime soon. Griffen, of course, is tending to apparently serious mental health issues.
  • Lions guard T.J. Lang suffered at least the fifth concussion of his career last week, and assuming he wants to continue his career, Kyle Meinke of MLive.com believes 2018 will be his last season in Detroit. Lang is under contract through 2019, but he missed games last year because of brain, back and foot issues, and he is dealing with brain and back issues again this year. He would carry a cap hit of $11.7MM in 2019, and Meinke does not envision Detroit ponying up that kind of cash given Lang’s recent spate of injury problems.
  • The Buccaneers recently worked out former first-round draft choice Paxton Lynch, but Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Bucs have no interest in signing Lynch at this time.

NFC Injury Notes: Rodgers, Falcons, Eagles

Aaron Rodgers will enter Sunday with a questionable designation on the Packers‘ injury report. The two-time MVP can improve his chances of playing, obviously, by practicing Saturday — when the Packers do more than the typical walkthrough — but not doing so won’t prevent him from playing. Mike McCarthy said he’d have no issues deploying Rodgers even if he doesn’t practice all week, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. The 13th-year Green Bay coach said his quarterback feels better than he did at the beginning of the week. Despite Rodgers’ performance on Sunday against the Bears and his history of playing through left knee pain, he’s not a lock to face the Vikings.

Here’s the latest from the NFC’s injury situations.

  • Another key Falcons cog won’t be available Sunday. After the losses of Keanu Neal and Deion Jones, Atlanta won’t have the services of starting running back Devonta Freeman. He’s been declared out due to the knee injury he suffered against the Eagles. Tevin Coleman will start. The Falcons have rookie Ito Smith and recently signed Brian Hill in place as backups.
  • Once again, the Giants won’t have their top pass rusher available. While the Giants are hoping to have Olivier Vernon in Week 3, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (on Twitter), his high ankle sprain will keep him out against the Cowboys.
  • Trai Turner‘s stay in Panthers concussion protocol will result in him missing this week’s game against the Falcons. He’s been declared out, putting Carolina down three starting offensive linemen — Turner and tackles Matt Kalil and Daryl Williams, both of whom residing on IR — going into its NFC South opener.
  • The already-banged-up Eagles didn’t come out of Week 1 unscathed. Darren Sproles will miss Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers. The 34-year-old passing-down back sustained a hamstring injury against the Falcons. He’ll join Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery among Philadelphia’s high-profile Week 2 absences.
  • Already without IR-stationed cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, the Bucs won’t have Brent Grimes available to cover Eagle wideouts, either. Tampa Bay used two second-round picks on corners, Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart, and could see an extended glimpse of the rookies’ development to this point in their careers.
  • The Lions49ers game will see the visitors without top guard T.J. Lang and the hosts missing deep threat Marquise Goodwin. Both players have been declared out. Kyle Shanahan said (via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area, on Twitter) Dante Pettis will start in place of Goodwin.

Lions Notes: Caldwell, Lang, Ansah

Following Detroit’s 35-11 win over division rival Green Bay, head coach Jim Caldwell addressed reporters and said he does not know what the future holds, Justin Rogers of the Detroit News reports (Twitter link).

Despite posting a 9-7 record, the Lions were eliminated from the playoffs following a loss to Cincinnati in Week 16. By missing the postseason, sources told NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport that the team was expected to let go of Caldwell at season’s end.

Hot-seat rumors have swirled around Caldwell for months and an answer to those rumors is likely to come in the next few days. In September, Detroit gave Caldwell a contract extension but the terms of the deal were not revealed until December, when NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported the deal ran through 2018.

“I don’t make any excuses,” Caldwell said. “It’s just not the way I live my life. So we go out, we do what we do and we’ll make an assessment from there. The real assessment is wins and losses. That’s the key. I think there are things that I’ve done, but I’m not done yet. So you know, we’ll see.”

Here’s more from the Lions:

  • Guard T.J. Lang is not expected to require surgery for a foot injury that has lingered throughout the season, ESPN’s Michael Rothstein reports (Twitter link). Lang missed the team’s Week 16 loss to Cincinnati, which eliminated the Lions from the playoffs. The right guard is signed through the 2019 season.
  • Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah is “pretty confident” he can return to his 2015 form, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes. Over the last two season, Birkett notes the pass-rushing lineman has spent 25 of a possible 32 weeks on the injury report. Ansah told Birkett, “I’ve been dealing with a lot all year long … There is good days and bad days regardless of how healthy you are.” After recording 14.5 sacks during his breakout 2015 campaign, Ansah has managed just 11 in the two seasons since.

NFC North Notes: Asiata, Lions, Vikes, Bears

Matt Asiata‘s visit with the Lions occurred this weekend, but the team is not ready to offer the former Vikings starter a contract yet, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Birkett adds that the workout went well for the first-time UFA running back, but the Lions are currently going with their holdovers. Detroit’s present backfield houses Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Dwayne Washington and Zach Zenner. The Lions did not draft a running back. An Asiata pact would seemingly stand in the way of the Lions adding LeGarrette Blount. One of the suitors linked to the now-uniquely positioned free agent, the Lions have a need for a reliable runner after Abdullah has failed to stay healthy. The unavailability of he and Riddick, who is already a passing-down specialist, hurt the Lions last season. Asiata has not drawn any other known interest to this point.

Here’s more from Detroit and the latest from some of the Lions’ chief rivals.

  • Jarrad Davis will play middle linebacker and relegate Tahir Whitehead to the competition for one of the outside spots, Birkett notes. Whitehead led the Lions with 132 tackles last season — 45 more than any other Lion recorded in 2016 — but drew scrutiny from Pro Football Focus, which graded the veteran as its second-worst full-time linebacker. Davis played middle linebacker in each of the past two seasons at Florida and appears set to open there for the Lions, who also added Paul Worrilow to the equation there this offseason. Whitehead looks to be the frontrunner for one of the outside jobs in Detroit’s 4-3.
  • Brian Robison said he agreed to a restructured Vikings contract — one that amounts to a paycut in 2017, with his salary being slashed from $5.3MM to $3.9MM — not because the franchise forced him to but because it gives him an opportunity to play 2018 with the franchise. “No. 1 I didn’t have to take a pay cut. It was something I chose to do,” Robison said, per Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “With the Vikings, I thought it was a very complimentary deal both for myself and the organization. On the flip side of it, I got an opportunity to play an extra year here in Minnesota and gives me an opportunity to retire as a Viking and play my entire career in one uniform.” Now 34, the 11th-yaer defensive end is the Vikings’ longest-tenured player and is signed through 2018, and he plans to make that his final NFL season.
  • High-priced Lions guard T.J. Lang won’t join his teammates in workouts until training camp, Birkett reports. The former Packers Pro Bowler is recovering from a January hip surgery, which will shelve him for Detroit’s OTAs and minicamp.
  • The Bears are adjusting some of their quarterback coaching plan for rookie Mitch Trubisky, John Mullin of CSNChicago.com notes, adding, however, John Fox won’t be thinking long-term when he decides who will start come September. Mullin writes that Mike Glennon‘s status as the current starter, one he held at this juncture in the 2015 Buccaneers’ offseason, won’t deter the Bears from starting Trubisky on Day 1 if he’s ready. Trubisky is viewed as more of a project than Jameis Winston, but the Bears’ investment is quite similar to the Bucs’ then.

NFC West Rumors: Lang, Ware, 49ers, Rams

T.J. Lang saw the Lions change his mind at the last minute and possibly changing the fortunes of the team that beat Detroit in the wild-card round. The ninth-year guard was “99 percent” sure he was going to sign with the Seahawks after the sides’ Saturday summit. But the Lions improved their offer and ended up signing the Michigan native to a three-year, $28.5MM deal.

I didn’t know Detroit was coming back with a counter-offer,” Lang said in an interview with 97.1-FM (via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press). “When I left Seattle I was about 99 percent sure I was flying back there to sign a contract and Detroit stepped up and things changed pretty quick.”

Lang’s former team did not offer him as much as the Lions did. The Packers proposed a three-year deal worth $21.5MM. While the Lions pact includes $19MM in guarantees, the Packers’ offer housed just $6.5MM guaranteed. Opining on the Packers’ usual free agency-phobic tendencies, Lang said Green Bay’s offer made this decision easier.

I think just throughout the years they were able to get some guys back in town because they used the whole, we’re good, we’re competitive, we compete for championships every year. Do you want to play with the best quarterback in the NFL-type thing, you’re going to have to take a little less money, and I think it just kind of wore some guys out the last couple years and watching guys leave,” Lang said during the radio interview.

Here’s more from the NFC West.

  • DeMarcus Ware‘s Rams visit did include discussions with Wade Phillips and new HC Sean McVay, Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com reports. But he adds the sides did not get into serious talks about the now-retired pass-rusher joining the Rams.
  • UFA tackle Byron Bell visited the 49ers this weekend, ESPN.com’s Field Yates tweets. He did not play during the 2016 after dislocating his ankle on the first day of Titans OTAs last summer. Bell proved versatile for the 2015 Titans, however, starting 16 games but at three different spots — eight at right tackle, seven at left guard and one at left tackle. The 28-year-old Bell has been a career-long starter, serving as the Panthers’ primary left tackle from 2011-14.
  • Kyle Juszczyk received an even better offer than the fullback-record deal (four years, $21MM) he signed with the 49ers, Peter King of TheMMQB.com reports. The fifth-year fullback’s agent told King one team would have paid Juszczyk more than what the 49ers offered. The Bills, Browns, Eagles and Jets were also in on this competition.
  • The SeahawksJared Cook visit will create questions regarding Jimmy Graham‘s long-term spot with the team, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes. Graham is already 30, having turned 25 during his rookie year. However, Cook is less than six months younger. Graham will be a UFA in 2018, and the Seahawks have potential third contracts for Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor to consider. Both have observed other safeties surpass their second Seattle contracts in terms of value in recent years. Pete Carroll said at the Combine there is no reason to doubt Graham’s status on the 2017 Seahawks. He will count $10MM against Seattle’s cap this year.
  • Jarvis JonesRams visit will occur Tuesday, per Gonzalez. The Rams signed their most recent visitor, cornerback Kayvon Webster, on Monday night.