Integral Jets Veteran Is ‘Back to Old Form’ at Training Camp

Robert Saleh

Getty New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh at training camp in 2022.

New York Jets training camp is adding some excitement to the dog days of summer now that padded practice is finally upon us.

This stretch of August is always a good barometer of the state of the offensive and defensive line, as players compete for roster spots against one another in the trenches. Jets star pass rusher Carl Lawson isn’t worried about making the team but he is looking to prove himself after a torn Achilles in 2021.

So far, the veteran defensive end has been nothing short of spectacular with three sacks and several quarterback pressures over the first two days of pads — which is reminiscent of last year.

ALL the latest Jets news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Jets newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Jets!

Back & Better Than Ever

Lawson is a machine. Reading through camp updates from the Jets crew of beat reporters, it’s very easy to feel like you’ve fallen through some sort of time loop as the disruptor dominates NYJ blockers once again.

Things are supposed to get more difficult for pass rushers once the pads go on — offensive linemen have more to grab at — but Lawson’s gotten better as the days have gone by. He notched his first (padded) sack of camp without much resistance from left tackle Conor McDermott on August 1.

SNY’s Connor Hughes described it as a “bad” beat, adding that he basically got to Zach Wilson “in a second.” McDermott is a career backup though, filling in for George Fant as he recovers from knee surgery, how about a sack against a starter?

No problem, Lawson might as well have responded, getting past Mekhi Becton on the right side for sack number two — per Hughes again.

Today on August 2, Lawson picked up right where he left off on the first play of 11-on-11, blowing by McDermott to drop Wilson for a third time — according to The Athletic’s Zack Rosenblatt.

He also had a QB pressure later in the practice where he “ran over Laken Tomlinson with a bull rush.” That’s a Pro Bowl-caliber guard, not some backup left tackle or a player working his way back from injury — which is what Lawson is supposed to be doing, by the way.

ESPN’s Rich Cimini had the coverage, noting that “after a slow start in [non-padded] camp… Lawson looks to be back to old form.”

Or as Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich put it: “Oh, there’s Carl, he’s back.”

Follow the Heavy On Jets Facebook page, where you can weigh in on all the latest NYJ-related daily content, analysis, features and more!

Jets D-Line Resembles ‘Hungry Pack of Wolves’

Lawson isn’t the only pass rusher that’s gotten off to a fast start. By my count, the Jets have had seven sacks through the first two days of padded work.

Although the aforementioned machine has accounted for three of them, the entire D-line has reportedly been all over Wilson and the other NYJ quarterbacks on most snaps. Veteran DT Sheldon Rankins has been among the early producers according to Rosenblatt, with one sack and some steady penetration.

Defensive end Tim Ward and defensive tackle Jonathan Marshall each got home for a sack on day one as well, and forgotten prospect Jabari Zuniga picked up a practice-ending sack on day two.

Edge rushers like John Franklin-Myers, Bryce Huff and Jacob Martin have been held off the board since pads have come on but all three registered multiple “would-be” sacks without them — as did DT Quinnen Williams. Rookie Jermaine Johnson II has had an encouraging start as well, but has had more pressures and stops than sacks.

Head coach Robert Saleh voiced that the first-round talent has “got a long way to go but we like where he’s at.” Team reporter Ethan Greenberg also highlighted “back-to-back really nice reps” from Johnson during 1-on-1 drills.

Needless to say, this unit has performed as advertised. NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger compared the Jets’ D-line to a “hungry pack of wolves” today it’s hard to argue he’s wrong.

This should be a very intense camp battle to watch as the summer progresses. The only challenger that you could argue has fallen behind over the first couple of days is Vinny Curry, the sage of the group. He sat out practice on August 2 with a hamstring issue.

Follow @obermuller_nyj and @BoyGreen25 on Twitter for all the latest New York Jets breaking news, rumors, fresh takes and more!


Read More