T.J. Lang spent eight seasons as a member of the Green Bay Packers before signing with the Detroit Lions via free agency this offseason.
He won a championship in Green Bay, and said some of his fondest football memories were playing in the nasty, cold weather games at the end of the season that Green Bay is famous for.
Lang admitted Thursday that it will be a little strange warming up on the other side of the field pregame and being on the opposing sideline, but once the ball is snapped for the first Detroit offensive series Monday night, all that nostalgia flies out the window.
The Lions pursued Lang aggressively in free agency, and his only concern now is going into Green Bay and helping his hometown team get a crucial division win to get back to .500 at the midway point of the season.
"I thought about it a little bit," Lang said about the welcome he'll get back in Green Bay. "I don't think it was a relationship that ended on bad terms. Certainly not from my end. You never know with fans, obviously. Division rival. They kind of forget pretty quick how long a guy played there.
"It is what it is. I don't look for cheers or boos. It doesn't matter to me. It isn't going to affect my mindset."
It has to be a little strange from the Packers perspective as well, preparing to play someone who was a stalwart along their offensive line for years.
"T.J.'s playing very well," McCarthy said. "I'm very fond of T.J. We feel like he's their best lineman as far as going through our personnel evaluation and our defense is getting ready to compete against him.
"It'll be a moment for him, but when that ball is kicked off, T.J. will play football with the style of play that he always has."
It's hard to argue with McCarthy's assertion that Lang has been Detroit's best player upfront this season. He's yet to give up a sack, and is responsible for allowing just one quarterback hit this season. Pro Football Focus grades him as the sixth-best right guard in football and the eighth-best guard in the game overall.
"He's been great, not only on the field but he's a great locker room guy," Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said of Lang. "He's played in some big games, obviously, had a ton of success. So, I think he's been really good for those guys in that room and obviously good for our offense as a whole."
Detroit's obviously very glad Lang is on their side of the field Monday night.
HUNDLEY SCOUTING REPORT
The Lions' defense will compete against a Brett Hundley-led Packers offense Monday night, as former MVP Aaron Rodgers continues to rehab from a broken collarbone.
Lions safety Glover Quin said the Packers still run a lot of the same concepts they had in their offense before the Rodgers injury with Hundley. He said the biggest difference between the two quarterbacks is that Hundley looks to run the ball more, whereas Rodgers would run and move, still looking to throw.
"They're going to run the same things," Quin said. "Run their concepts. They've had a whole bye week, so I'm pretty sure they've put in some things that maybe he's more comfortable doing."
Hundley is completing 53 percent of his passes with just one touchdown and four interceptions since taking over for Rodgers, but he did record 44 yards on the ground on just three attempts in Green Bay's recent lost to the Saints.
"You just have to be conscious of that," Lions defensive tackle Akeem Spence said of Hundley's ability to take off and run. "He's not going to be a stand-in-the-pocket quarterback. As a rusher, there's that chance if you beat a guy clean, he's probably going to take off. I know I'm not going to be fast enough to catch him after watching the way he ran away from the linebackers of the Saints.
"You still want to be aggressive and do what we do upfront and still play ball. We're not going to slow our attack down just for one guy looking to run the ball. We'll be alright."
The Lions' official Twitter account tweeted a picture Thursday showing Glover Quin's diving interception last week vs. Pittsburgh, side-by-side to a practice photo of Quin going through a Friday drill where the Lions DBs work on those same kinds of lunging interceptions.
In fact, Quin had the practice photos from detroitlions.com on his phone, and was showing reporters the pictures in the locker room as an example of how practice makes perfect.
The interception last week was special for Quin not only because of its difficult nature, but it came against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to complete a bucket list of sorts for Quin.
"I know have an interception against all of the top quarterbacks during my time," Quin said with slow smile coming over his face. "Ben (Roethlisberger), Eli (Manning), Peyton (Manning), Aaron (Rodgers), Matt Ryan, Drew Brees. I got Tom (Brady) in the preseason. That counts. Philip Rivers."
The interceptions vs. Brady (preseason), Ryan and Roethlisberger all came this season. He also notched his first against Carson Palmer Week 1 this season.
Quin is tied with Darius Slay for the team lead with three interceptions during the regular season. His pick on Roethlisberger was 19th since joining the Lions in 2013 and the 24th of his career. Since 2013, only Seattle's Richard Sherman has more interceptions than Quin.