To say the Detroit Lions fan base was happy with the offseason signing of veteran and former Packers guard T.J. Lang might be a bit of an understatement.
"It was overwhelming at first," Lang said Tuesday. "I think I had to remind people that I'm a guard. I'm not a defensive end. I'm an O-lineman. We're the typical blue-collar, lunch-pail guys. I'm not going to make a play on Sunday that's going to be the difference in the game."
Lang is right about that, the Lions are hoping he makes about 70 or so plays a game that help make the difference on Sunday.
Lang and right tackle Rick Wagner were GM Bob Quinn's two big splurges in free agency this offseason. Both are expected to come in and immediately upgrade Detroit's offense from both a pass and run blocking perspective.
With those big expectations comes a greater sense of responsibility. And for Lang, that means getting back healthy from offseason hip surgery and quickly working to build chemistry with his new line mates.
"The goal is to still be ready for training camp," Lang said of his timeline for return. "Right now, I'm kind of transitioning into doing a little bit more strengthening stuff. The previous couple weeks have been a lot of range of motion, trying to get the soreness out. I'm starting to lift a little bit more. I think we're definitely on schedule if not a little bit ahead."
That timeline means Lang will miss OTAs and June's mandatory minicamp, all opportunities for he, Wagner and the rest of the revamped offensive line to build some chemistry.
He'll miss out on opportunities to go through the line calls live, to get a feel for how Wagner likes to take his footwork on a particular block and what calls center Travis Swanson likes to make in certain situations.
"For me, that's obviously disappointing once we start those OTAs I won't be out there," Lang said. "But I'm going to have to make up for it, whether it's pulling those guys aside after the play, spending extra time in the meeting room. I'll probably be annoying the hell out of them asking a bunch of questions."
Lang said both he and Wagner aren't afforded much of a grace period because of the contracts they signed this offseason and the expectations that comes with those big deals.
"We've got to show up Day 1 and we have to be firing on all cylinders," he said. "I think that's going to be a big key for him and I, especially, to make sure that we're helping each other out along the way and building chemistry.
"We can't be on the field together at the same time (until training camp). We have to find a way to (build chemistry) whether that's in the meeting room or after practice getting together and trying to find a way to be successful."
Though he's been in the building just a week and a half since the start of the offseason training program, Lang said he's been pleasantly surprised with the expectation level for this year's team, starting with the front office to the coaching staff and trickling all the way down to the players themselves.
He has also gotten the sense that this offense wants to be much more balanced moving forward, which was one of the big reasons why he and Wagner were brought in.
"I definitely think here we're going to put a bigger emphasis on making sure we're running the ball effectively and making sure we're being a balanced offense and not tipping our plays," Lang said.
"Really just go out there and be as balanced as we can. As an offensive lineman, that's all you can ask for. Run the ball as many times as you throw the ball, so guys just don't tee off on you. I think just from being in the meetings and talking to the guys it's going to be a big emphasis this year is we need to run the ball effectively."