Defensive End Carl Lawson signed in free agency by the Jets missed the entire 2021 season after he ruptured an Achilles tendon in a preseason joint practice at Green Bay. It has been 20 months to be exact is the last time Carl Lawson has stepped on to the field.
Jets Game 1 for #58
Lawson will close the book on that difficult time in his professional, and personal life, when No. 58 lines up with the Jets’ revamped defensive line across from Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson against Baltimore at MetLife Stadium on Sunday,
“He is very much a unicorn in a lot of ways,” defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said on Thursday. “I know I’ve spoken about this before, but it’s a guy that when you look on paper you look for, when pass rushers you look for length, you look for speed, you look for great bend and that, and he might not necessarily check those boxes on paper, but then all of a sudden you watch the tape you see this guy that just wins consistently and affects quarterbacks and plays at such a high clip.
Yeah, he’s a hard one for me because he doesn’t, as I said, he doesn’t check those boxes, but he checks all the boxes as far as affecting quarterbacks, sacks, playing the run well, all those things. So, he’s a unicorn, he is.”
Through his four seasons in Cincinnati (2017-20) Lawson, who is from Alpharetta, GA, had a total of 20 sacks and 83 QB hits. He logged 8.5 sacks as a rookie, and had 5.5 sacks in 2020, with career highs in QB hits (32) and solo tackles (18) in his final season with the Bengals.
Carl Lawson Sr., who is making the trip to North Jersey from Georgia to see his son play his first game as a member of the New York Jets.
“My dad hasn’t seen me play in a long time,” Lawson said on Thursday. “It’s a real big emotion that way.”
Carl Sr. played fullback in college for Georgia Tech more than 30 years ago. During the coronavirus pandemic Carl Sr., who earlier had a kidney transplant, came down with Covid-19 and spent more than two months in the hospital.
“My Dad’s a big part of my life,” Lawson said. “My Mom’s coming up, too. But you never know. I thought I was going to lose him a while ago right around the time after I signed my contract. I was like, ‘Dang, he wouldn’t even get to see me play as a Jet.’ It was really, really bad. He was in the hospital forever. There were some days you just didn’t know. I really want him to come watch me play for that particular reason.”
“I think that’s why it’s important to me because you never know when your last opportunity for anything is. He wants to come watch me play, that’s why it’s important.”
Lawson, like many of the Jets starters on offense and defense, saw limited playing time in the preseason as head coach Robert Saleh made a concerted effort to keep his players healthy.
“I mean he is absolutely impossible to replicate,” Jets DC UIlbrich said. “He brings not only pass rush and he brings skill, but also brings this toughness and this strain and this effort and this mindset that absolutely rubs off on other people. So we missed him last year, we’re excited to have him back, we really are, and I know he’s excited, too.”