Is the future now for Green Bay's LT?

October, 28, 2009
10/28/09
4:59
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert

The last time I saw the Packers in person, quarterback Aaron Rodgers was running for his life. So I’m more than a little interested in a relatively quiet development that’s taken place since then.

 
 AP Photo/Amy Sancetta
 T.J Lang has played well at left tackle when given the opportunity.
Rookie T.J. Lang played left tackle for portions of the Packers’ games against Minnesota and Detroit, and then replaced injured starter Chad Clifton for the entirety of last Sunday’s 31-3 victory at Cleveland. He’s been impressive at times and given up pressure on other occasions, but it’s notable that coach Mike McCarthy has rarely missed an opportunity to praise his performance.

Clifton is nursing an ankle injury and isn’t likely to practice until Friday at the earliest. We don’t know for sure who will start Sunday at Lambeau Field, but it’s enough to make an interloper wonder if the Packers aren’t hoping/praying/pushing Lang to take over the position on a more permanent basis.

During a conference call Wednesday, McCarthy said Lang "really fits the mold of a number of" recent draft picks and "has done a good job." He added: "He’s taken advantage of the opportunity he got to play in Cleveland, [and] I’ve been pleased with the way he’s played in the substitution role in both Minnesota and [against] Detroit."

We then asked McCarthy whether he could foresee Lang as his left tackle for the long term. McCarthy’s response: "Yeah, potentially. No doubt. If he keeps playing the way he is, he’ll be playing there for a long time."

Successful left tackles usually have a certain size and a unique skill set. When some NFL teams looked at the 6-foot-4, 316-pound Lang this winter, they projected him as a guard. McCarthy said the Packers viewed him as a tackle who could move inside if needed.

But regardless of whether Lang looks like the prototypical left tackle, there’s at least some anecdotal evidence that the Clifton era is winding down in Green Bay. His contract will expire this winter and the ankle has forced him to miss at least a portion of five games this season. I’m not sure if Lang is the full-time answer at the position, but the search is on.

All of which brings us to Wednesday’s line of the day. If he starts Sunday, Lang will match up against Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen, who registered 4.5 sacks against the Packers earlier this month.

During a conference call with Wisconsin reporters, Allen was asked whether he was licking his chops to play against a rookie.

"I have to be honest," Allen said. "If I was licking my chops over a dude, I’d be scared of myself."

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