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Notebook: Packers sign Lang to extension

Aug. 13, 2012
 
Green Bay Packers guard T. J. Lang at Monday's training camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field. H. Marc Larson/Press-Gazette
Green Bay Packers guard T. J. Lang at Monday's training camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field. H. Marc Larson/Press-Gazette

Injury report

• New injuries: FB John Kuhn (ankle), S M.D. Jennings (personal reasons), DE Ryan Pickett (personal reasons).
• Still out: LB Desmond Bishop (hamstring), CB Davon House (shoulder), WR Diondre Borel (groin), WR Shaky Smithson (ankle), WR Greg Jennings (concussion), TE Jermichael Finley (quad), RB Du’ane Bennett (knee), RB Brandon Saine (hamstring), FB Jon Hoese (hamstring), CB Sam Shields (elbow), OLB Frank Zombo (hamstring), DE Johnny Jones (knee), G Ray Dominguez (ankle), T Derek Sherrod (lower leg), TE Andrew Quarless (knee), RB James Starks (turf toe).
• Returned: WR Tori Gurley (groin), T Marshall Newhouse (concussion).

More

Though he has been a full-time starter for only one season, the Packers saw enough in left guard T.J. Lang to lock him up long term.

T.J. Lang has been a starter for only one season, but the Green Bay Packers saw enough in him last year to lock him up long term.

The left guard signed a four-year contract extension Monday, said his agent Mike McCartney.

Lang won the job in training camp last summer after the Packers let longtime starter Daryn Colledge leave in free agency. Lang started all 16 regular-season games plus the playoff game. He was a backup for his first two seasons and would have been an unrestricted free agent after this season.

He was playing under his rookie contract that he signed in 2009, when the Packers picked him in the fourth round.

Lang was slated to earn $1.26 million this season. Terms of the extension were not available.

Lang is the second Packers player to sign an extension this summer. At the start of training camp, punter Tim Masthay signed a four-year, $5.465 million contract.

On his Twitter account, Lang posted: “Thanks for all the love! I’m beyond excited to be staying home for another 4 years. Pack nation I won’t let you down!”

The Packers still have several players in line for contract extensions, the most pressing of which is receiver Greg Jennings, who is in the final year of his deal.

Finley explains injury

When Jermichael Finley worked out this offseason, he had plenty of motivation.

The Packers tight end said the dropped passes he had last season — a team-high 11 of them — and the criticism he heard drove him to work extra hard.

Maybe too hard?

“No doubt,” Finley said. “All the dropped passes and whatnot, coming into the season, I was trying to run my routes as hard as hell, trying to catch the ball as best as possible, working out to get as big as possible and as strong as possible, so it’s myself. I’m my own enemy, man, when it comes to working out.”

He thinks it may have led to the quad injury that has kept him out of practice since Aug. 6. He missed the preseason opener at San Diego last week, didn’t practice Monday and says he won’t play in Thursday’s game against Cleveland. He said he expects to return to practice next week and play in the third preseason game, at Cincinnati on Aug. 23.

“I’ve got a big year in front of me, so no setbacks,” Finley said. “I just want to come out firing the first week of the season and don’t want the injury or me pulling something. Just waiting on doc to pull the trigger.”

Finley also missed three practices early in camp because of a concussion.

After missing most of the 2010 season because of a knee injury, Finley matched his career high with 55 catches last season and set career marks in yards (767) and touchdowns (eight). Perhaps because of his outspoken nature, he became a lightning rod for criticism when he dropped passes and wasn’t a factor in games.

Though he claimed he has stayed off Twitter and other social media sites, he indicated he has heard people questioning why he hasn’t been practicing. He said he needed “a timeout” and is “just looking out for myself and the best thing for the team also.”

“During the offseason, I’m still going like I’m in training camp, which people don’t see,” Finley said. “And I come out here in training camp and get tweaked up and whatnot, and I get questioned about workouts, why I’m not here working out? I’m like, shoot, I ain’t never in my life seen anybody holding the Lombardi Trophy in training camp.”

Finley worked out this offseason under the guidance of Minneapolis-based trainer/chiropractor Josh Sandell, who is now with him in Green Bay. He referred to Sandell as his doctor, although the Packers’ medical staff ultimately has the final call on when Finley will return.

“I’m working with the doc I’ve got now, Dr. Josh, seeing him twice a week,” Finley said. “Of course, (he has been in) the training room and then just staying off my feet as much as possible. I’m not trying to run or do too much stretching and beat my leg up, so just resting.”

Newhouse returns

For the first week of practice, the five starting offensive linemen — left tackle Marshall Newhouse, Lang, center Jeff Saturday, right guard Josh Sitton and right tackle Bryan Bulaga — took every rep together.

Then Newhouse sustained a concussion in the Aug. 3 Family Night scrimmage, and it turned into a game of musical chairs at left tackle with Herb Taylor, Andrew Datko and Reggie Wells all taking reps with the starters.

When Newhouse returned to practice Monday, a sense of order was restored. But there’s some catching up to do.

“It’s great having Marshall back,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “I think he needs some reps with the six of us together. Having him in there with T.J. and Josh and Bryan and Jeffy, it’ll be nice having us together and start to jell together.”

Newhouse didn’t appear to be on a snap count in practice and as long as he doesn’t experience a setback, he’s expected to start against the Browns.

“He didn’t look like he had any conditioning issues,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “We challenged him today. I think he’s on schedule.”

Injury update

While Newhouse and receiver Tori Gurley (groin) returned to practice, fullback John Kuhn dropped out because of an ankle injury.

The severity of the injury was not known.

Safety M.D. Jennings and defensive end Ryan Pickett also missed practice because of personal reasons.

Odds and ends

• With Jennings out, Anthony Levine got the first-team work at safety in the nickel and dime packages ahead of rookie fourth-round draft pick Jerron McMillian.

Though he’s listed as a first-year player, Levine has spent the better part of the last two seasons on the Packers’ practice squad. The 25-year-old from Tennessee State spent all 16 games of the 2010 season on the practice squad and the final nine games of last season there.

“I thought Anthony Levine played very well in the San Diego (preseason) game,” McCarthy said. “I’d like to see him stack the success that he had last week, but Anthony’s been with us for some time and showed a lot of range, a lot of athletic ability, and he’s doing a nice job.”

• Rookie defensive tackle Mike Daniels made it through his third straight practice.

After missing the entire offseason program while recovering from January shoulder surgery, he was cleared to start training camp but lasted four practices before he sustained knee and groin injuries that kept him out for the next seven practices plus the preseason opener at San Diego.

Daniels was off to a good start before his latest injuries and has looked good again since his return Saturday.

“I don’t think I have my quickness like I used to,” Daniels said after Monday’s practice. “My strength can still be better. My technique is still sloppy in a lot of ways. There’s a lot of things I need to do to continue to improve. It’s clear that I’ve missed some days.”

Before his knee and groin injuries, Daniels was getting most of his snaps as one of the two inside rushers in the nickel package. He had even worked his way into some snaps with the No. 1 unit.

• Former Packers tackle Chad Clifton was scheduled to visit the New England Patriots on Monday, according to NFL.com.

The Packers cut Clifton in April after a season in which he played in only six regular season games because of hamstring and back injuries. He then had offseason back surgery.

rdemovsk@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @RobDemovsky.

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