New York Jets defensive end Carl Lawson, the team’s biggest free-agent signing from the offseason, will miss the 2021 campaign after rupturing his left Achilles tendon Thursday.
The injury happened during a red zone period in a joint practice between the Jets and Green Bay Packers at the Packers’ facility. Several players took knees and the practice fell ominously quiet as medical personnel tended to Lawson.
Safety Zane Lewis also suffered a season-ending injury during the joint practice as the Jets stated he tore a patella tendon and sprained an MCL. Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (knee) and wide receiver Denzel Mims (hip) also were injured Thursday, but their injuries are considered minor and both players are day-to-day, the Jets said.
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Lawson’s season-ending injury is a huge blow to the Jets, who were counting on him to be their primary edge-rushing threat in their new 4-3 front.
He had been dominant in training-camp practices.
The loss of Lawson will force the Jets to retool their defensive line under new head coach Robert Saleh, who spent the last four seasons as the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator.
Saleh is no stranger to dealing with injuries and still fielding a strong defense. The 49ers ranked No. 5 in total yards allowed last season despite the losses of Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, Dee Ford, Richard Sherman and Ezekiel Ansah due to injuries.
Bryce Huff, an undrafted free agent last year out of Memphis, is the favorite to get a chance to replace Lawson as a primary pass-rusher for the Jets.
The Jets signed Lawson to a three-year, $45 million contract in March. He spent his first four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. Lawson has a history of major injuries. He tore his left ACL at Auburn in 2014, and he tore his right ACL with the Bengals in 2018.
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