Most veterans don't care to partake in preseason action, but New York Jets edge rusher Carl Lawson is looking forward to Friday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles after missing all of 2021 with a torn Achilles.
"I want it as bad as you want to breathe," Lawson said Wednesday, borrowing a quote from motivational speaker Eric Thomas.
Gang Green signed Lawson last offseason to help solve the edge-rush riddle that has plagued the Jets for years. Unfortunately, that plan got sideswiped with his injury in mid-August.
Coach Robert Saleh said Lawson would play Friday against the Eagles along with most starters, who are expected to see about a quarter of action.
Lawson said last Saturday night's scrimmage got the jitters out after a year of rehab.
"Maybe when I go out there actually having like an actual jersey on, that might be different, like the actual pads and stuff like that," he said, via the Associated Press. "But that jitteriness and that feeling, I think I got that out in the green and white scrimmage."
When healthy, the 27-year-old fits the Saleh mold, able to win off the edge and disrupt plays. He might not have the sack totals in his career, but when last he was on the field in 2020 with Cincinnati, he ranked second in QB hits and fourth in pressures among edge rushers.
So far, Lawson is on track in his return from the devastating injury.
"I'm getting more and more comfortable, but nowhere near where I want to be," Lawson said. "I had to take a few steps backward before I could go forward. I had to tell myself that's OK, that slowly but surely I'm getting there."
Friday, he'll get a few reps to continue building toward his first real snap in a Jets jersey.
"I'm excited for him, especially that first snap, just to get it out of the way for him because there is still an ease of mind that has to come through," Saleh said. "Just going out there and playing, and I know he's practicing and he feels comfortable, but it's still going out there and playing and just getting your pads loose."
The Jets take on the Eagles on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
NFL+ gives you the freedom to watch LIVE out-of-market preseason games, LIVE local and prime-time regular-season and postseason games on your phone or tablet, the best NFL programming on-demand and more! Wherever you are, this is how you football! Learn more about NFL+.