Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia speaks to the media on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, in Allen Park.
Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions play their first division game of the season Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, and their injury problems aren’t getting any better.

Right guard T.J. Lang appears unlikely to play against his old team after suffering the fifth or sixth concussion of his career in last week’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Lions coach Matt Patricia said Monday that Lang is in concussion protocol and that as head coach his main objective when it comes to injured players “is just to make sure that I’m doing what’s best for our guys and to help us try to compete but not put anybody in harm’s way.”

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“I always have a concern for all my players that are hurt or get injured during a game, no matter what the injury is,” Patricia said. “It’s a violent game, it’s an aggressive game, and these guys are tremendous men and athletes that go out and play the game. So we’re obviously going to do everything we can to make sure that he’s OK and that’s the most important thing.”

Patricia stopped short of saying he’d counsel Lang, 31, on whether to retire or continue playing.

Lang, who has one year left on his contract, missed one game with a brain injury last November and said in 2015 that he previously suffered three or four concussions in his career.

“I’m very close with my players,” Patricia said. “I’m someone that I think is a pretty compassionate person, so I’m always going to make sure that people in general are safe. I think that’s the No. 1 thing for me. I don’t really care what you do for a living or what your job is, we’re always going to be making sure that everybody’s OK. I don’t want anybody to get hurt, I don’t want anybody to have long-term effects or whatever the case may be, no matter what their job is. Other than that, there are obviously people that are a lot more educated on the subject than I am.”

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Along with Lang, the Lions could be without top defensive end Ziggy Ansah Sunday for the fourth straight week.

Ansah has missed the last three games with a shoulder injury and did not practice at all last week.

Asked Monday if Ansah is a candidate to go on injured reserve, Patricia said he’s “day-by-day.”

‘Hard call’

Lions defensive lineman Romeo Okwara said he’s not sure whether to expect a fine or not for the late-hit penalty he drew on Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.

Prescott spun to the ground as he tried to escape a sack just before halftime of the Lions’ 26-24 loss. He popped immediately to his feet, and was knocked back down by Okwara just as the official’s whistle blew signaling the end of the play.

“That’s a hard call,” Okwara said Monday. “That’s a hard call for them to make, too.”

Given the timing of the play, Okwara said he doesn’t believe he could do anything different if that situation arises in the future.

Okwara’s penalty gave the Cowboys first-and-10 at the Detroit 38, and Dallas scored a touchdown on the next play.

“I don’t really have any comment on it,” Patricia said. “It just unfortunately is what it is on the field. We just have to continually try to coach it up as far as hearing the whistle, we have to pull off, we obviously know the quarterbacks in the situations there. We’re trying to make sure we do a good job there of not having any penalties or the situation that kind of surrounds those guys. It was a hard play on the field I thought seeing it live. I thought it was real close. Obviously, the officials saw it a certain way, it is what it is.”

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