That spot on the bench doesn't mean a long stay in the doghouse. Showing just how highly the Packers think of Lang — and showing the precarious state of the other options — Lang figures to start at right tackle on Sunday against Dallas.
Veteran Mark Tauscher, who sustained a knee sprain against Tampa Bay after playing 14 mostly effective snaps, didn't practice on Wednesday. Allen Barbre, who started the first seven games and has been a major headache with his inadequate pass protection, has a headache of his own. Barbre sustained a concussion late against Tampa Bay and was limited at practice on Wednesday.
While coach Mike McCarthy said it's possible both will be available for Sunday, Lang is a relatively good bet to get the starting nod.
"We're going to just take the full week," McCarthy said. "We're trying to get people ready to play. We're trying to get healthy. It's a challenge that everybody has, particularly this time of the year when you have injuries. So, we'll look at all of our options and with just the way we are today and probably (Thursday), T.J. is going to get a lot of work over there."
Lang admitted his indoctrination to the NFL has been a "big mental game." When he arrived in Green Bay as a fourth-round draft pick, he was slotted at right tackle to provide depth with Breno Giacomini recovering from offseason ankle surgery. When Giacomini was cleared to practice early in training camp, the coaches deemed three a crowd at right tackle, so Lang was worked in at both guard slots, with Barbre and Giacomini battling for the starting job.
When Clifton went down, Lang was moved to left tackle, where he started twice after being a two-year starter there at Eastern Michigan. But with Barbre having yielded six sacks and Tauscher and Barbre battling injuries, Lang is back at right tackle — where he started 10 games as a sophomore.
"I think it's a bigger deal than people really think, just physically switching your body up to go play on the right side," Lang said about moving from the left side to the right. "It's something that I've had some background in, so it's not like I'm playing a new position. It's been awhile since I've played there. Today I was out there, felt a little rusty at times, but for the most part, I think I feel pretty good out there."
Whoever starts at right tackle will see plenty of Anthony Spencer, who has no sacks but leads all 3-4 outside linebackers in quarterback hits, according to Pro Football Focus. Rookie fourth-round pick Victor Butler replaces Spencer in some passing situations and has three sacks.
"Obviously, it's been a negative for us the first half of the year," said Lang, who yielded three sacks to Jared Allen while playing left tackle vs. Minnesota two weeks ago. "We've had way too many."
With Aaron Kampman iffy with a concussion and his backup, Brady Poppinga, requiring an MRI for a quad injury, rookie seventh-round pick Brad Jones could go from special-teams player to starter at left outside linebacker.
"We're working all of our different combinations, so as far as who is starting, time will answer that," McCarthy said. "I couldn't tell you if Brady is going to be back this week, I couldn't tell you if Aaron is going to make it. But Brad has done a lot of good things, particularly on special teams. He's been very productive. He missed some time there in training camp and has really, really progressed, and he'll be ready if he has that opportunity."
Kampman said he's feeling better than he did on Monday after sleeping for 12 hours that night, but he didn't practice on Wednesday and won't on Thursday, either. He hasn't retaken the cognitive test since Monday.
"Don't know yet. It's not like, ‘Oh, my finger's sore.' It's a little different. No way to really check all that stuff in there," Kampman said.
Kampman suffered the concussion on the fourth defensive play of the game but played into the fourth quarter. He absolved the Packers' medical staff and coaches from blame, saying they weren't aware of his problem — nor was he.
"It's just a weird thing," Kampman said. "The thing you're using to analyze — say you get hit in the leg, you can analyze with your brain to say, ‘Hey, my leg is sore.' Well, if your head is sore, it's kind of hard to analyze your own thing that you're trying to analyze, if that makes sense."
Packers injury report
Did not participate — LB Brandon Chillar (hand); TE Jermichael Finley (knee); LB Aaron Kampman (concussion); LB Brady Poppinga (quad); T Mark Tauscher (knee). Limited participation — T Allen Barbre (concussion); DE Cullen Jenkins (ankle); WR Jordy Nelson (knee); QB Aaron Rodgers (feet); CB Charles Woodson (hip). Full participation — WR Jake Allen (quad); FB Korey Hall (calf); S Derrick Martin (concussion).
Cowboys injury report
— The rest of the offensive line will remain intact, which means left guard Daryn Colledge will keep his job despite a poor performance at Tampa Bay.
— McCarthy wasn't sure if Nelson would be an option on kick returns. Nelson practiced for the first time since suffering a knee sprain against Detroit. He averaged 29.3 yards on seven kickoff returns, with a long of 46. "Jordy was very productive with his opportunities," McCarthy said.
— Welcome back, Stanley Daniels. The Packers re-signed the guard to the practice squad. He spent four weeks on the practice squad earlier this season until being replaced so the Packers could beef up their depth at receiver.
— The Packers have lost both in games since Jermichael Finley went down with a knee sprain. Finley on Monday said he was ready to go. "We always play the high end of player safety," McCarthy said. "I know Jermichael wants to play. Everybody is excited to get him back on the field. But Dr. (Pat) McKenzie has been doing this a long time. So until he clears that last hurdle, he won't be playing. He's getting close."
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