Tagged in: coach

Lamar Jackson’s return to Baltimore Ravens practice ‘boosts everybody’s spirits’

Lamar Jackson made an impressive return to the Baltimore Ravens, receiving positive reviews after his first practice of the offseason.

Jackson looked comfortable and had good velocity on his throws, and teammates expressed excitement over seeing him on the field for the first time in six months.

“I think everybody knows that Lamar, he’s what drives our team,” Ravens tight end Mark Andrews said Tuesday. “The energy around him being here lifts everybody up.”

Jackson, who is scheduled to talk to reporters Thursday, skipped all three weeks of the voluntary workouts before reporting Monday. He hasn’t given a reason for his absence.

The last time Jackson was on the field with Baltimore was Dec. 29, when he tried to practice with a pronounced limp. He missed the final four games with a right ankle injury, as Baltimore failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

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On Tuesday, it seemed like old times with Jackson. He moved around well, threw his usual sidearm passes and connected frequently with Andrews, including on a 30-yard pass while on the run. Teammates noticed Jackson’s passes were tight spirals and had some extra zip on them.

“He’s physically in very good shape. I thought his arm looked really good,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “You can see he’s been throwing a lot. You can see he’s in great physical condition. It’s great to have him out there. He kind of boosted everybody’s spirits, too.”

Jackson appeared comfortable on the field despite not attending the nine previous practices.

There was only one instance where the team had to huddle again because there was confusion about a play.

But what upset Jackson the most was throwing two interceptions to safety Tony Jefferson.

“He’s a competitor,” Harbaugh said. “He’s mad about some passes here and there.”

Jackson is entering his fifth-year option, which will pay him $23.016 million this season. If the sides are unable to reach an extension by March 7, Baltimore is expected to place the franchise tag on him.

“He’s the ultimate pro,” Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell said. “He prepares and handles his business the way you’re supposed to. Just being a young guy, he’s so mature. He understands how to do things the right way.”

The Ravens also announced they reached an injury settlement with defensive tackle Derek Wolfe and will release him. This comes one day after Wolfe announced he had his second hip surgery of the year.

Wolfe was solid in 2019, when the Ravens went 14-2. But he was sidelined all of last season with hip and back injuries. “So that’ll be it with that,” Harbaugh said of Wolfe.

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Abreu hits pair of 2-run homers, White Sox beat Tigers 9-5

Jose Abreu hit a pair of two-run homers and Luis Robert singled home the go-ahead run in the fifth inning to help the Chicago White Sox defeated the Detroit Tigers 9-5 on Monday night.

Abreu sent a soaring shot over the left-center fence in the first to give the White Sox a 2-0 lead. He hit a line drive in the ninth over a row of hedges beyond the wall in center to give Chicago a four-run cushion.

“He put on a heck of an exhibition,” manager Tony La Russa said.

White Sox right-hander Lance Lynn made his season debut, coming back from surgery on his right knee, and gave up three runs on 10 hits over 4 1/3 innings.

“It felt good to be back,” he said. “Early on, you’re trying to feel things out and they jumped on me.”

Lynn had a heated exchange with Chicago third base coach Joe McEwing in the dugout after the second inning.

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“(Lynn) was mad at himself,” La Russa insisted.

Bennett Sousa (3-0) was credited with the victory after throwing 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.

Rony Garcia (0-2) permitted four runs on five hits and two walks over four-plus innings.

Willi Castro hit a leadoff homer for the Tigers and scored twice. Miguel Cabrera had two hits, including an RBI single. Harold Castro added three hits and two RBI.

After Will Vest threw an inning of scoreless relief, Andrew Chafin entered for the Tigers and made a costly throwing error in the sixth.

Chafin fielded Reese McGuire’s sacrifice bunt and threw wide of third base, permitting two runs to score that gave Chicago a 6-3 lead.

“Terrible throw,” Chafin said.

The defending AL Central champion White Sox had lost four of five.

“There’s no turbulence in this clubhouse,” La Russa said. Detroit has dropped six of nine.

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Hunter Renfrow agrees to 2-year, $32M extension with Las Vegas Raiders

The Las Vegas Raiders and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow have agreed to a multiyear extension, the team revealed Friday.

The extension is for two years and $32 million with $21 million guaranteed, a source confirmed to ESPN.

“We are thrilled to have reached an agreement with Hunter Renfrow and look forward to seeing him in Silver and Black for years to come,” Raiders coach Josh McDaniels said in a statement Friday.

“Hunter is one of the true leaders on this team and he exemplifies the values of the organization in how he comes to work every day. He is a tremendous teammate on and off the field and the entire Raider Nation is excited to see what the future holds for Hunter.”

Renfrow was in line for a new deal after catching 103 passes in 2021, the second-highest single-season total by a receiver in franchise history behind the 104 receptions that Hall of Famer Tim Brown had in 1997. Renfrow also caught nine touchdown passes last season.

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Over his career, Renfrow has caught 208 passes for 2,299 yards with 15 touchdowns.

He was selected to his first Pro Bowl after last campaign.

“It was cool getting to play with a lot of players that I grew up watching, and I got to see on film over these last three or four years,” Renfrow said in OTAs. “That’s a huge honor to be voted on for something like that. I’m not a very big individual guy, so I think it was cool and it was a huge honor, but that’s not my goal for this year. My goal is to have the best season we can.”

Renfrow, a fifth-round find out of Clemson by the Raiders in 2019, was set to play out the final year of his rookie contract, earning $2.54 million in base salary.

The extension is the third this offseason handed out by the Raiders to their homegrown talent, following deals to quarterback Derek Carr and defensive end Maxx Crosby.

Renfrow figures to continue to work out of the slot as Davante Adams, whom the Raiders acquired in a blockbuster trade on March 18 after eight seasons with the Green Bay Packers, takes over as the No. 1 receiver in the offense.

“He’s an interesting dude because I’ve been around a lot of people that are like Hunter, but they’re never…a fourth-year [player] with the type of football acumen that he has, and his awareness and understanding [of] why he does certain things,” Adams said of Renfrow on Thursday.

“Because there’s people out there with a lot of talent, but they can’t sit there and break it down and tell you why they’re doing what they did with their footwork or the next rep, why they tweaked it a little bit because of the look that they had. So, his awareness and his football smarts, he’s definitely ahead of his time.

“Sometimes I’ll be sitting there just talking to him like in the middle of an offensive meeting and we’ll be talking about releases, and he’ll tell me what he thought and I’m like, This is fun. This is fun being able to be with somebody who’s a lot like me mentally, the way that I approach the game, the way I attack it…I’ve been learning from him; he’s learning from me.”

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Mike McCarthy not sure if TE Dalton Schultz will attend Dallas Cowboys’ minicamp

Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy is not sure whether franchise-tagged tight end Dalton Schultz will participate in next week’s mandatory minicamp.

McCarthy stated Schultz informed him last week he would not be at this week’s final voluntary organized team activities with hopes of jumpstarting negotiations toward a long-term deal by the July 15 deadline.

“You have business situations that happen all the time in this league, so had a long talk with him on Friday about it,” McCarthy said. “We’ll see what next week brings.”

If Schultz does not practice, he would be subject to fines totaling more than $95,000. Per the collective bargaining agreement, a player is subject to maximum daily fines of $15,980, $31,961 and $47,936 for each day of a missed mandatory practice.

Schultz signed the $10.9 million tender not long after the Cowboys placed the franchise tag on him in March. He said earlier this offseason he would let his agent, Steve Caric, handle the negotiations with the club. According to multiple sources, the two sides have yet to have meaningful discussions toward a contract.

The Cleveland Browns recently signed David Njoku to a four-year $57 million contract that included $28 million in guarantees after putting the franchise tag on him. Njoku caught 36 passes for 475 yards and four touchdowns last year, compared to 78 receptions for 808 yards and eight touchdowns for Schultz.

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In his past two seasons, Schultz has 141 receptions for 1,423 yards and 12 touchdowns, developing into a security blanket for Dak Prescott.

“I mean Dalton’s been here every single day since the season’s been completed. I don’t think there’s been a week where I haven’t seen Dalton, so yeah I’m not worried about his commitment or what he’s done,” McCarthy stated.

“He’s in great shape. If he was standing here he would tell you this is the strongest he’s ever been. So he’s put a tremendous amount of work into the offseason. I think it’s clearly why I separate it. It’s business. It’s business that he’s tending to and it’s understood. But to think that he hasn’t done the work would not be accurate.”

McCarthy said he does not balance business and football when it comes to players.

“I think they’re two different entities,” McCarthy said. “Business is business and I’m in the business of winning football games. So we all have contracts. We all have these type of situations that they come about. Timing obviously plays into these decisions and transactions. Now, as head coach, it takes you a few to get used to it, but I think you have to learn to separate things in this world. It’s too competitive. There’s too much work to be done. Dalton deserves this position that he’s in. So hopefully we can get it worked out.”

Without a multiyear agreement in place by July 15, Schultz would have to play the season under the tag.

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Los Angeles Angels fire Joe Maddon; Phil Nevin named interim manager

Over the past couple of days, while his team navigated through a mystifying losing streak that still has not ceded, Los Angeles Angels general manager Perry Minasian started to think a change at manager might be necessary.

On Tuesday morning, as he drove into Angel Stadium after watching his daughter receive an award for her second-grade class, Minasian became convinced that it was time to let Joe Maddon go.

He called Angels owner Arte Moreno, received his blessing, then later drove to Maddon’s house to inform him he had been fired.

Thirty-two months ago, in October 2019, Maddon’s return to the organization he came up with was marked with celebration.

Now, on the heels of a 12-game losing streak that tarnished the Angels’ remarkable start, it’s over in swift, sudden fashion.

“It’s tough,” Minasian stated during a news conference at Angel Stadium on Wednesday afternoon. “Disappointed it’s come to this. I really like the man. It’s somebody I’m gonna talk to the rest of my life. Just the conversations daily. Who he is, what he’s about. You guys were around him — the energy he brings, how consistent he is on a daily basis. It’s tough. It’s tough. But you gotta be able to take emotion out of things and make decisions. I’ve taken the emotion out of it and taken a step back. Looking at where I’m at, as tough of a decision as it is, I felt like it was the right thing to do.”

Phil Nevin, the longtime corner infielder who joined the Angels coaching staff this year, will manage the team in the interim and will remain in that role through the end of the season, Minasian said. Mike Gallego will replace Nevin as the team’s third-base coach.

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The Angels, coming off getting shut out by Michael Wacha and the Boston Red Sox on Monday night, sit at 27-29 despite boasting a 27-17 record just two weeks earlier.

The 12-game losing streak ties the longest for a single season in franchise history and is tied for the second longest since 1900 by a team that was at least 10 games over .500 entering the streak, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau. During that 12-game stretch, the Angels had a minus-43 run differential, a .596 OPS and a 6.31 ERA.

“There hasn’t been one phase of the game where we’ve been good,” said Minasian, whose team finds itself 1½ games out of a playoff spot despite an expanded field.

“We’ve struggled on the mound, we’ve struggled at the plate, we’ve struggled defensively, we’ve struggled baserunning. The one thing I will say is the effort’s been great. I believe in this group. I know we’ve gone through a tough stretch, but we have 106 games left. And I’m excited about the 106 games.”

Maddon, 68, was in his third season with the organization he previously spent four decades with as a player and as a coach, largely in the minor leagues.

Maddon was Mike Scioscia’s bench coach on the team that won the 2002 World Series, then went on to a highly successful nine-year run with the low-budget Tampa Bay Rays, with whom he won two of this three manager of the year awards. In 2016, he led the Chicago Cubs to their first World Series championship in more than 100 years.

But it never quite clicked with the Angels.

The team concluded the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season with a 26-34 record, missing the postseason in a year when 16 teams made it. The Angels enjoyed a historic two-way season by Shohei Ohtani in 2021, but prolonged absences by Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon sent them to a sixth consecutive losing season.

They started 2022 with a dominant first month and a half but are suddenly in danger of missing the postseason for the eighth consecutive season.

In an interview with The Athletic shortly after his firing was announced, Maddon expressed surprise at the decision.

“You always rely on people in charge to read the tea leaves properly. This time, they did not,” Maddon told The Athletic, adding that he wants to continue managing.

“You can ask any of the players or coaches. They’re the ones who really know. Perry was in a tough spot. I understand that. Let me put it that way. I would really rely on the sentiments of the coaches and the players.”

Maddon added that he had what he considered to be a good working relationship with Minasian and that his relationship with the players and coaches “could not have been better.”

Nevin becomes the third Angels manager since the end of Scioscia’s 19-year run in 2018. Minasian, a longtime executive for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Atlanta Braves, is the team’s fourth full-time GM since Bill Stoneman ended his nine-year run in 2007.

Since being brought in at the start of the 2021 season, Minasian has been given the freedom to make major decisions in a manner that wasn’t afforded to prior executives such as Billy Eppler and Jerry Dipoto.

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Center Alex Mack announces retirement after 13 NFL seasons

After 13 NFL seasons, Mack announced his retirement via Twitter and in conjunction with the 49ers on Friday morning, bringing an end to a career that included seven Pro Bowl selections, three second-team All-Pro nods and a spot on the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-Decade team for the 2010s.

“After 13 seasons and 204 games for 3 teams, I have decided to hang up my cleats,” Mack wrote on Twitter. “I am so grateful to the game of football and everything it has given me. From the very start it helped shape who I am and taught me life lessons. I started to play football because it was fun and that never changed…

“I always tried to hold up my end of the bargain and never let anyone doubt my effort.”

Mack, 36, earned his final Pro Bowl appearance last season, his only year spent in San Francisco. He signed with the 49ers as a free agent in March of 2021 in a move that not only reunited him for the third time with coach Kyle Shanahan — the pair also worked together in Atlanta and Cleveland — but was something of a full-circle moment for Mack, who played at the University of California in nearby Berkeley.

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At the time, Mack signed a three-year contract but made it clear that he was playing on a year-to-year basis and would evaluate whether to continue at the end of each offseason. Mack stayed committed to that this offseason, leaving many wondering what he was going to do all offseason.

At the NFL owners meetings in late March, Niners general manager John Lynch expressed optimism that Mack was going to return, saying that “all signs are him coming back and being a part of us.”

Lynch’s tone changed dramatically just before the draft about a month later when he stated that he would let Mack make his own announcement when he was ready.

On Thursday, Mack and the Niners agreed to a reworked contract that dropped his base salary for 2022 from $5 million to $1.12 million and from $3.35 million to $1.165 million in 2023. The move saved the 49ers more than $4 million in cap space this season, money they quickly used to sign their nine-player draft class.

On Friday, Mack made his retirement official and the 49ers released a statement thanking Mack for his contributions.

“The center position in the NFL is the heartbeat of an offense and Alex’s intellect, consistency, love for the game and professional approach made a lasting impression over the course of his 13 NFL seasons,” Lynch and Shanahan said in a statement. “Congratulations to Alex on a highly decorated NFL career and we wish him nothing but success in his post-playing career.”

Mack was initially the 21st overall pick by Cleveland in the 2009 NFL draft. He earned three Pro Bowl nods and was a second-team All-Pro once in seven seasons with the Browns before landing three Pro Bowl berths and two second-team All-Pro spots in five years with the Falcons.

The 49ers now find themselves looking for a replacement at a position Shanahan values greatly in his offense.

Internal veteran options include Jake Brendel, who has been working with the starters during the offseason program, and Daniel Brunskill, who started at right guard last season but played some center in 2020.

San Francisco also has a trio of rookies — Nick Zakelj, Dohnovan West and Jason Poe — who could factor into the mix, though Shanahan has traditionally been reluctant to play someone inexperienced at center.

Outside of the building, veteran JC Tretter is the best center on the free-agent market, though he comes with questions about a knee issue that prevented him from practicing much of last season.

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Warriors answer in Game 2, top Celtics 107-88 to even Finals

Just like in Game 1, the Golden State Warriors took command with a big third quarter. Unlike Game 1, they finished the job.

The NBA Finals are now tied, after the Warriors turned a close match into a rout with a third-quarter masterpiece. Stephen Curry scored 29 points, Jordan Poole connected from just inside of midcourt to cap the pivotal period and the Warriors defeated the Boston Celtics 107-88 on Sunday night in Game 2.

“I thought everybody was more engaged,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after his team improved to 5-0 after a loss in these playoffs.

“It’s pretty obvious. Just our level of force and physicality was ramped up quite a bit, and it had to be.”

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Poole concluded with 17 points for the Warriors, who outscored Boston 35-14 in the third quarter to turn a two-point halftime lead into a 23-point edge. And when the Warriors then scored the first six points of the fourth, the Celtics waved the surrender flag and emptied their bench.

“We said we needed to play with desperation,” Curry said. “That’s what we did.”

Golden State also got 12 from Kevon Looney on 6-for-6 shooting, and 11 apiece from Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson.

Jayson Tatum scored 21 of his 28 points in the first half for Boston. Jaylen Brown added 17 for the Celtics, but fought through a 5-for-17 shooting night, and Derrick White scored 12.

Just like in Game 1, a huge run decided everything.

The Celtics went on a 48-18 run in the second half to decide the opener.

The Warriors didn’t wait that long in Game 2, going on a 43-14 burst from late in the first half until early in the fourth quarter to turn a tie game into an absolute runaway. Game 3 is Wednesday in Boston.

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QB Nick Foles signs with Indianapolis Colts, reunites with Frank Reich

Quarterback Nick Foles signed with the Indianapolis Colts on Monday, reuniting him with coach Frank Reich, who was his offensive coordinator with the Eagles in 2017 when he led Philadelphia to a Super Bowl title.

The team did not disclose terms, but a source told ESPN that Foles received a two-year contract, confirming a report by NFL Network.

The Colts released quarterback James Morgan in a corresponding move. The Eagles showed interest in a potential reunion with Foles before he agreed to the deal with the Colts, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

As the Eagles received trade interest on Gardner Minshew, they considered Foles but ultimately decided they would stick with their current quarterback room, which includes Minshew and undrafted free agent Carson Strong behind starter Jalen Hurts, the source said.

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In Indianapolis, Foles will back up starter Matt Ryan, whom the Colts got in a trade from the Atlanta Falcons this offseason.

Other quarterbacks on the Colts’ depth chart include Sam Ehlinger, who was selected by Indianapolis in the sixth round of the 2021 draft and Jack Coan, who signed with the this offseason as an undrafted free agent.

The Bears released Foles on May 1 in a move that was expected after Chicago signed quarterback Trevor Siemian in free agency to back up Justin Fields.

The Bears initially acquired Foles two seasons ago in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars for a fourth-round draft pick. The Jaguars signed Foles to a four-year, $88 million contract in 2019, but the quarterback suffered a broken collarbone in the season opener and never regained the starting job from then-rookie Minshew.

After starting seven games in 2020, the Super Bowl LII MVP logged only one start last season, leading the Bears to a 25-24 road victory over the Seattle Seahawks in which he threw for 250 yards and a touchdown pass.

A veteran of 10 seasons, Foles has thrown for 14,003 yards with 82 touchdowns and 43 interceptions. He earned a Pro Bowl selection with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013 but had his most notable season in 2017, under Reich, when he was called upon to replace an injured Carson Wentz in Week 15.

Later that season, he led the franchise to its first Super Bowl championship, completing 72.6% of his passes in the 2017 postseason for 971 yards, with six touchdowns and just one interception in three games.

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Las Vegas Raiders trade WR Bryan Edwards, 7th-rounder to Atlanta Falcons for fifth-round pick in 2023 NFL draft

The Las Vegas Raiders have traded wide receiver Bryan Edwards and a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2023 draft to the Atlanta Falcons for their fifth-round selection next year, the teams revealed Friday.

Edwards, 23, has 45 catches for 764 yards and four touchdowns in 28 career games (15 starts) since being selected by the Raiders in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft.

Las Vegas, under the direction of new general manager Dave Ziegler and new coach Josh McDaniels, saw Edwards as expendable after getting two-time All-Pro wideout Davante Adams in March to join Pro Bowler Hunter Renfrow.

The team also signed Mack Hollins, Demarcus Robinson and Keelan Cole in free agency as part of the overhaul of the wide receiver room.

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Cole on Thursday signed a one-year, $1.2675 million deal with Las Vegas that included a $150,000 signing bonus, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates.

With the departure of Edwards, the Raiders now have just two of their seven picks from the 2020 draft still on the roster:

Offensive lineman John Simpson, a fourth-round pick who started all 17 games at left guard last season, and cornerback Amik Robertson, who was taken 30 picks after Simpson and has started two of 18 career games.

First-rounders Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette were both cut. Lynn Bowden, who was taken one spot after Edwards, was traded before playing in a regular-season game, and Tanner Muse, drafted 19 picks after Bowden, spent his rookie campaign on injured reserve and was released before playing a match.

The Falcons, meanwhile, needed to add to their receiving depth after drafting Drake London with the No. 8 pick last month. Edwards could end up being No. 2 on the depth chart, as Auden Tate and Olamide Zaccheaus are their most experienced receivers.

Atlanta, in the past two years, traded Julio Jones to Tennessee, had Calvin Ridley suspended indefinitely for gambling and lost Russell Gage in free agency to Tampa Bay.

The Falcons also have one of the tallest group of pass-catchers in the NFL. Tight end Kyle Pitts is 6-foot-6, London is 6-5, running back Cordarrelle Patterson is 6-2, Tate is 6-5, and Edwards is 6-3.

In corresponding roster moves, the Falcons released cornerback Kendall Sheffield and tight end Ryan Becker

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

Nine months removed from Achilles surgery, New York Jets defensive end Carl Lawson won’t participate in OTA practices later this month, but he expects to be on the field for training camp in late July.

“I think I’ll be good to go, but it’s up to the organization and how they want to play it, what they want me doing and stuff like that,” Lawson said Wednesday on 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 he’s still in the latter stages of his rehab.

The team will be cautious with Lawson, their marquee free-agent signing in 2021, which means there could be a ramp-up period once camp starts.

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The Jets had big expectations for Lawson after signing him to a three-year, $45 million contract, but he tore his Achilles last Aug. 20 in a joint practice with the Green Bay Packers.

He was finished before the season got started.

The defense struggled without him, finishing 32nd in yards allowed, 32nd in scoring and 26th in sacks.

This is a difficult injury for any player, let alone a pass-rusher who relies on first-step quickness, but Lawson is confident he can regain his old form.

“I’ve had major injuries before and I came back better,” said Lawson, who has rebounded from two ACL injuries. “This is different, but I don’t plan on not being better than I was. … But if I don’t, who knows? But I plan on being better than I was.”

Lawson dominated training camp before the injury, and he’s planning to go to school on that film. That, he believes, will provide a baseline for when he’s back on the field.

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