Tagged in: DE

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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Longtime Buffalo Bills DE Jerry Hughes signs contract with Houston Texans

The Texans have signed veteran defensive end Jerry Hughes, a source told ESPN, confirming multiple reports.

It marks a homecoming for Hughes, who is from Sugar Land, Texas, and played at Stephen F. Austin High School.

Hughes is the latest in the group of veteran defensive ends general manager Nick Caserio has added to bolster the Texans’ defensive line. On Tuesday, the Texans announced they signed Hughes’ former teammate with the Buffalo Bills, defensive end Mario Addison.

Last week, Houston also added defensive end Rasheem Green. Hughes’ signing was first reported by NFL reporter Jordan Schultz.

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One of the few players who were retained by the Bills from the previous regime when Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane took over, Hughes was the longest tenured Buffalo player last season.

The 12-year veteran played in all 17 matches but registered his lowest percentage of defensive snaps played (51.8%) since the initiation of his career.

Hughes, who turns 34 in August, was selected as the 31st-overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2010 draft, but he had a slow start to his career.

After three seasons with the Colts, he was traded to the Bills for linebacker Kelvin Sheppard in 2013.

The following nine years of Hughes’ career were spent with the Bills, a team with which he found success. He had 10 sacks in each of his first two years in Buffalo and concluded with at least four in all the following seasons, outside of 2021 (two).

Last season, he led the team in pass rush win rate (20.9%). Hughes is fourth all time in Bills history with 53 sacks and has 58 total in his career. He also has seven postseason sacks.

Hughes has been a longtime leader of the team’s defense as the team has continued to invest in youth, especially on the defensive line.

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Baltimore Ravens re-sign DE Calais Campbell to 2-year, $12.5M contract

Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell is coming back to the Baltimore Ravens on a two-year deal, the team revealed Saturday.

Campbell’s contract is worth $12.5 million but could be as much as $16.5 million with incentives, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Campbell, 35, decided to return for his 15th NFL season after briefly contemplating retirement, saying he still has a desire to play after watching the Los Angeles Rams celebrate their championship.

He now will get to conclude his career in Baltimore after spending the past two seasons there and will try to get that elusive Super Bowl ring.

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Over the past two days, the Ravens addressed two areas of need while bolstering their leadership on defense, bringing back middle linebacker Josh Bynes on Friday and then keeping Campbell on Saturday.

Ravens Lamar Jackson and Tony Jefferson II took to Twitter to share their reactions to Campbell’s return.

A six-time Pro Bowler, Campbell has long been known for his capacity to get to the quarterback.

But he was more of a run-stopper than a pass-rush force in his two seasons with Baltimore, where he managed 4.5 sacks, including 1.5 last season.

Durability has been a problem for Campbell with the Ravens. After his streak of 98 straight starts ended, Campbell missed six of his past 25 games with Baltimore.

He is one of four NFL defenders since 2000 to record at least 700 tackles and 85 sacks. Among all active players, his 93.5 career sacks rank 10th and his 773 career tackles are 12th. Campbell is still in search of that first Super Bowl championship after six trips to the playoffs.

He played nine seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, who selected him in the second round of the 2008 draft, and three with the Jacksonville Jaguars before being traded to the Ravens in March 2020 for a fifth-round pick.

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Cincinnati Bengals DE Trey Hendrickson clears concussion protocol, OK to play Saturday

The Bengals will have their top pass-rusher available for Saturday’s playoff game.

Defensive end Trey Hendrickson successfully cleared the concussion protocol and will play versus the Tennessee Titans in the teams’ AFC divisional-round playoff game, Bengals coach Zac Taylor said on Thursday.

“He’s been in these moments before,” Taylor said in a teleconference with local reporters. “He’s one of our premier players. It’s good to have him.” Hendrickson left the team’s 26-19 wild-card-round victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Jan. 15 and entered the league’s concussion protocol.

He made progress toward returning throughout the week, starting with limited participation at Tuesday’s practice and then practicing in full on Wednesday.

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Since signing with the Bengals in the 2021 offseason on a four-year, $60 million deal, Hendrickson has been one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL.

In the 2021 season, he tallied 14 sacks, which led the team and is the most in a single season in Bengals history since sacks became an official statistic in 1982. He also ranked ninth in the NFL in pass rush win rate among edge rushers during the regular season, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

The return of Hendrickson boosts a defensive line that will still be short-handed against the top-seeded Titans. Bengals defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi was placed on season-ending injured reserve earlier in the week.

He left the victory over Las Vegas with a foot injury and tweeted on Thursday that he had successful surgery.

Saturday’s game against Tennessee is Cincinnati’s first divisional-round game since January 1991. The Bengals are looking to make their first appearance in the AFC Championship Game since 1988.

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Washington DE Montez Sweat has broken jaw, could miss a month

Washington defensive end Montez Sweat suffered a broken jaw in Sunday’s loss to the Denver Broncos and will miss perhaps a month – or more.

The loss deals a serious blow to Washington, which has lost four consecutive matches and entered its bye week with a 2-6 record. It’s the same record it had a year ago after eight games en route to a 5-3 finish and NFC East title.

Repeating that won-loss success will be difficult minus Sweat, whose injury was first reported by Grant Paulsen of 106.7 The Fan. He hurt his jaw late in Sunday’s 17-10 beating, with his final snap of the game occurring at the 6:54 mark of the fourth quarter.

Sweat could be seen grabbing the side of his face after the play had concluded. It wasn’t until he got an X-Ray that the fracture was discovered. He can’t have any physical contact for a month. That means he’ll miss upcoming games vs. Tampa Bay, Carolina and Seattle.

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Washington had high hopes for Sweat and fellow end Chase Young this season.

But, so far, the two have combined for 5.5 sacks, with four by Sweat. Both have forced two fumbles this season. They had a combined 16.5 sacks a year ago in Young’s rookie season and stated they had discussed trying to break sack records by a tandem pass rush. The record is 39 by Minnesota’s Chris Doleman and Keith Millard in 1989.

Sweat had started 40 consecutive matches since entering the NFL in 2019. His size, length and athleticism made him difficult for offenses to always handle one-on-one in the run or pass game.

Washington also was thin at backup defensive end, having allowed veteran Ryan Kerrigan to leave via free agency in the offseason. Their backups are Casey Toohill and James Smith-Williams, who has played nearly three times as many snaps as Toohill. Rookie Shaka Toney also can help as a situational pass rusher.

Washington’s offense has been hit hard by injuries this season; at the end of Sunday’s game of the original 11 expected starters only three were on the field. But, defensively, they’ve been healthier with only linebacker Jon Bostic lost for the season after four games. Corner William Jackson III has missed two games.

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Broncos DE Bradley Chubb (ankle) will undergo surgery

Broncos linebacker Bradley Chubb’s 2021 debut lasted less than an entire match. Now, he’s hoping his 2021 season will last longer than his brief showing in Week 2.

Having re-injured his ankle on Sunday versus the Jaguars, Chubb will undergo an arthroscopic procedure Wednesday on his ankle and hopes to return this season, he announced through the team on Tuesday.

“I’m going to push everything I can to get back to these games and hopefully it’s sooner rather than later. My mindset is just going to be attack it 100 %every day,” Chubb stated.

Chubb said he’s been dealing with a bone spur in his ankle and the procedure will be to “clean it up” and “scope it out.”

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Chubb’s timetable will depend on how the surgery goes, though a surgery such as this generally takes six to eight weeks of recovery time.

Chubb is likely headed to injured reserve.

The initial hope was that Chubb’s ankle would respond to treatment and that surgery could be avoided, but it didn’t work out that way, NFL Network’s James Palmer reported.

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The biggest obstacle for the Broncos’ burgeoning star has been staying on the field.

Following a sensation 12-sack rookie season in 2018, Chubb played in only four matches in 2019 due to a torn ACL. Chubb’s 2020 return saw him play in 14 games, but he missed this season’s opener with an ankle injury that he tweaked in his debut (which saw him tally one tackle in 19 snaps).

Making matters worse for the Broncos’ defense, which has spearheaded the team’s 2-0 start, is that inside linebacker Josey Jewell is already out for the season with a torn pectoral.

A procedure awaits Chubb on Wednesday and then another trip on a familiar road to recovery. “I’m gonna push everything I have to get back to these games,” Chubb said. “I expect to see a whole new Bradley Chubb.”

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Seattle Seahawks cut DE Aldon Smith for off-the-field matter

Aldon Smith’s hopes of continuing his NFL comeback with the Seattle Seahawks are over.

The team waived the veteran defensive end, it announced, with sources telling ESPN the move was due to an off-the-field matter. The decision is not football-related but rather the result of Smith violating the team’s trust, according to a source.

The 31-year-old Smith has faced alcohol and legal issues for much of his NFL career, including an arrest in April on a second-degree battery charge in Louisiana.

That incident occurred shortly after the Seahawks signed him to a minimum-salary deal hoping that he could keep his personal life in order and continue his career revival, which started last season with the Dallas Cowboys after he missed the previous four seasons because of NFL suspensions. Smith has been staying in a sober living home in Seattle, as he did last season in Dallas.

While speaking with reporters on July 31 for the first time since signing with the Seahawks, Smith said his “tremendous support staff” helps him with his ongoing attempt to remain sober.

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“For me, it was just making myself vulnerable and being willing to trust and lean on [those] people,” he said. “I’ve always had people that were there, but I would always try to carry everything on my shoulders. So letting people help me and accepting that help was a major game-changer.”

Smith had been impressing the Seahawks with his play during training camp.

“Really good” was how one team source last week described how Smith was looking on the field. He played in the Seahawks’ mock game Sunday at Lumen Field and practiced Tuesday after the team’s day off.

Smith is scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 24 in connection to his April arrest in Louisiana. He is accused of choking a man unconscious during an altercation that started inside a New Orleans-area coffee shop. According to the police report obtained by WWL-TV, Smith had confronted the man about marital issues the man was having with one of Smith’s relatives.

Two days before that incident, the Seahawks signed Smith to a one-year, $1.1 million contract that included $137,500 guaranteed.

Smith did not take part in the Seahawks’ voluntary offseason program — many of their veteran players declined to take part until the final week — and received an excused absence from their mandatory minicamp in June. Coach Pete Carroll said Smith was not physically ready to practice at the time.

After Smith worked himself into shape heading into training camp, Carroll commented about how hard Smith had worked to get his body ready and how quickly he was picking things up. But Carroll also conveyed the reality that given Smith’s troubles with alcohol, there was more to his quest for a roster spot than what he showed on the field.

“We really sense that the more we can support him, the more, obviously, we can be there for him, the stronger it makes him,” Carroll said July 31. “So that’s really what our intent is here.”

The Louisiana arrest was the latest of Smith’s several legal issues, which have contained multiple DUI arrests and a domestic violence charge. The NFL suspended Smith for parts of the 2014 and 2015 seasons and from 2016 to 2019 for violations of its policies on personal conduct and substance abuse.

He returned to the NFL last season with the Cowboys and had five sacks in 16 games, with three coming in one game against Seattle and all of them coming in the first half of the season. Smith set an NFL record with 33.5 sacks over his first two seasons and has 52.5 sacks in six seasons.

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San Francisco 49ers DE Nick Bosa (ACL) expected to be ready for training camp

More than 80 of the players on the San Francisco 49ers’ 90-man roster participated in Tuesday’s organized team activity — but the most positive news of the day might have been about one of the few players who wasn’t there.

Defensive end Nick Bosa was not in attendance at the voluntary session as he works his way back from the torn left ACL he suffered on Sept. 20, 2020. But, after the roughly 75-minute OTA, coach Kyle Shanahan made it clear that Bosa’s rehabilitation is going well and the expectation is that when training camp opens on July 31, Bosa will be a part of it.

“Nick’s in Florida,” Shanahan said. “I’ve been talking to Nick since February on this. He came out in February for a while to get checked up on his knee and stuff. With him coming off the ACL and everything, it’s going great. … He’s got a good setup out there with his brother and the guy who works with his knee. They’re in contact with our guys all the time and just didn’t want to take him off his routine right now. I totally agree with him out there. He’s going to show up at some time during this, but he won’t be going out there doing anything coming off the ACL, but we fully expect him to be ready for training camp.”

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Getting Bosa back at full strength would be a big development for a defense that dropped from fifth in sacks in 2019 (48) to 22nd last year (30).

Bosa suffered the torn ACL early in a Week 2 win versus the New York Jets. It was the first of a series of season-destroying injuries for the Niners, who slumped to 6-10 after winning the NFC championship the previous campaign.

The 49ers’ pass rush would also benefit from the return of another key edge rusher if Dee Ford is able to recover from his persistent back issues. Ford, who appeared in just one game in 2020, also didn’t participate Tuesday, but Shanahan said Ford had been at the team’s facility since February and has made progress.

“Everyone knows the sensitivity of his injury with his back and stuff, but he’s been putting in a lot of work here and we feel it’s going the right direction,” Shanahan said.

“Last week, we sent him home because he had been here so long, to go back to his hometown, see his doctor and plan on coming back here in the next couple of weeks. But don’t expect to see him till training camp on the field.”

Also not participating Tuesday was running back Jeff Wilson Jr., who recently had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee, a league source told ESPN, confirming an NFL Network report. Wilson is expected to miss four to six months.

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Browns DE Vernon restructures contract, will get $11 million guaranteed in 2020

The Cleveland Browns have renegotiated defense end Olivier Vernon’s contract, an unnamed source told ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates.

Vernon was set to make $15.25 million, non-guaranteed, in 2020.

Now, Vernon gets $11 million guaranteed through a $7 million signing bonus, $3.75 million in base salary and a $250,000 workout bonus, according to Yates.

Vernon, 29, is also entitled for $2 million more in incentives.

There were reports earlier this offseason of the Browns’ interest in signing free agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

Clowney, 27, and Griffen, 32, remain free agents as of Tuesday morning.

However, OverTheCap.com showed the Browns had $37.27 million left in cap space before renegotiating Vernon’s deal.

It means the Browns still could add either Clowney or Griffen and keep Vernon.

At the same time, the Browns likely need to let some of the salary cap space roll over to next offseason to offer Garrett a contract extension.

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Garrett, 24, is entering his fourth season in the league and is due to make $4.61 million this season.

The Browns already picked up Garrett’s fifth-year option in 2021, which is worth $15.18 million.

In the offseason, Pro Football Focus reporter Ben Linsey ranked Garrett and Vernon as the second-best edge defender duo in the NFL.

In 2019, Vernon played in 10 matches, compiling 26 tackles, four tackles for a loss, 11 quarterback hits and a career-low 3.5 sacks.

Pro Football Focus graded Vernon as the Browns’ third-highest graded pass rusher.

Vernon missed three games after injuring his knee during a Week 9 loss to the Denver Broncos.

In Week 13 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, Vernon played only 10 snaps before missing three more games.

Vernon played in the regular-season finale versus the Cincinnati Bengals.

Injuries forced Vernon to miss time during the last three seasons, playing in 11 games for the Giants in 2018 and 12 games in 2017.

However, Vernon did not miss a game during his first five seasons in the league from 2012-2016. Headed into the 2020 season, Vernon is entering the final year of his contract after the Browns acquired him in a trade with the New York Giants.

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