New York Jets DE Carl Lawson expects to be ready for training camp after tearing up Achilles last year

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Nine months after Achilles surgery, New York Jets defensive end Carl Lawson will not participate in OTA practices later this month, but he expects to be on the field for training camp at the end of July.

“I think I’ll be ready to go, but it depends on the organization and how they want to play there, what they want me to do and stuff like that,” Lawson said on Wednesday during a Zoom call with reporters, his first interview since December. “I’ll be ready to go when my number is called. Even when I was on one leg, I was ready to go.”

Lawson is sprinting, according to coach Robert Saleh, but is still in the final stages of rehab. The team will be cautious with Lawson, their marquee free agent signing in 2021, which means there could be a build-up period once camp begins.

The Jets had high expectations for Lawson after signing him to a three-year, $45 million contract, but he tore his Achilles tendon on August 20 during joint training with the Packers. Green Bay. He finished before the start of the season. The defense struggled without him, finishing 32nd in yards allowed, 32nd in points and 26th in sacks.

It’s a tough injury for any player, let alone a pass thrower who relies on first-step quickness, but Lawson is confident he can return to his old form.

“I had major injuries before and came back better,” said Lawson, who rebounded from two ACL injuries. “It’s different, but I don’t plan not to be better than I was. … But if I don’t, who knows? But I plan to be better than I was.”

Lawson dominated training camp before the injury, and he plans to go to school on this film. This, he believes, will provide a baseline for his return to the field.

“Carl is a monster,” Jets tight end CJ Uzomah said of his former Bengals and Auburn teammate. “He’s built like an action figure. If you go to Madden and try to build a player, it’s Carl. Playing with him for six years, seven years, whatever it is, he’s just a monster “His start is amazing, and, in my opinion, his greatest strength is his strength. To get him back on the pitch, our defensive line is going to be really good.”

Perhaps as insurance, the Jets have added a handful of defensive ends, including first-round pick Jermaine Johnson II and former Houston Texans passer Jacob Martin. They also re-signed veteran Vinny Curry, who missed last season due to complications from a blood condition.

Lawson and John Franklin-Myers project late from the start, with Franklin-Myers having the flexibility to play tackle. Solomon Thomas, a free agent acquisition, also has inside-outside versatility. Quinnen Williams and Sheldon Rankins are the best return tackles.

“I think the potential is off the roof,” Lawson said. “I love this group. There’s a bunch of guys with different stories. It’s going to be a competitive group, so it’s going to create a pool of absolute monsters.”

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