Carl Lawson looked poised to develop into a game-wrecking force after an 8.5 sack 2017 beginner performance. Subsequently the Cincinnati Bengals edge rusher went last 14, down early in Week 8 with a torn right ACL.
Through seven complete weeks of the 2018 campaign, Lawson created just 1 sack, but provided consistent pressure off the Bengals’ border. His injury was a massive blow to Cincy’s defense, along with the merchandise the Bengals deployed the remainder of the season reflected his absence. The 24-year-old entered the NFL with health issues after managing accidents during his stint in Auburn, including a left ACL tear.
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Throughout offseason workouts this summer, Lawson rehabbed on the side and has insisted he isn’t pushing to prepare for training camp till he’s 100 percent. On Monday, the defensive end told NFL Network’s Good Morning Football he is eyeing Week 1.
“The purpose is to be out there Week 1, and I’m feeling great,” Lawson explained. “Thankfully I can look after my body, I have a lot of different tools, I can fly to places, I will do everything beneath the sun because I have the cash to get it done. Thus, it’s been a great rehabilitation process.”
Through one and a half seasons, Lawson exhibited a nose to the quarterback, with the ability to utilize blazing speed on the edge and flip that speed into power when required. The hope is that once he’s healthy, the new regime in Cincinnati will utilize him more than the usual rotational rusher since he grows.
The injury-ravaged Bengals saw crucial pieces go down last season, such as Lawson, Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, Preston Brown and Tyler Eifert. Every team deals with accidents, but the Bengals appear to be especially snakebitten of late — already watching first-round pick Jonah Williams return this offseason with a shoulder injury.
Lawson considers if the Bengals can remain healthy, they might surprise in 2019.
“You can expect a lot, but at the exact same time, in this league, that is what separates different groups, being in a position to be healthy throughout the season,” he said. “I believe that the major thing is being able to have that depth, which take over, so when things do happen. You know, because everybody’s like’Oh, well if we were healthy, if this or that, whatever’ — maybe not that many injuries as we had last year — but I believe that you can expect a lot from us.”
The Bengals stay a puzzle in the AFC North. An entirely healthy Lawson to begin the 2019 effort would provide a massive boost to a defense that could offer an intriguing combination of rush and protection ability if everybody can stay on the field.
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