Lawson's presence a good sign for Auburn
The view of Carl Lawson standing on the sidelines during Auburn’s A-Day game on April 19 was seen by more than those inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. The national televised spring game told the country that the budding superstar, eager to replace defensive end Dee Ford, was a no-go. Four days earlier he injured his knee in practice and was seen walking with crutches.
It has been over two months since Lawson’s surgery to repair his torn ACL. It has been four months since Lawson was seen on the field. But it is not like Lawson is holed-up in his bedroom not doing anything football related. To the contrary, Lawson is taking part in certain team activities and has been seen moving around a lot.
“Carl works extremely hard and he’s busting his tail every day to get better,” Rodney Garner, Auburn’s defensive line coach, told the Ledger-Enquirer.
“I saw him moving around a lot, actually,” linebacker Kris Frost said earlier this month. “I’m really confident about him being able to come back. I’m not sure when, but whenever the time is right, we’re going to be ready for him.”
The ‘105 rule’, a maximum roster size a FBS team may field during preseason camp, means Lawson can not be present in structured meetings but he can be at other meetings.
“When….my guys are in there coaching themselves, just running the film, Carl’s in there,” said Garner.
Despite not starting one game last year, Lawson was a freshman All-American who had 20 tackles with 7 1/2 for loss and four sacks. Lawson saw a lot of time on the field as part of Garner’s defensive line rotation. Those impressive numbers, especially for a 6-foot-2, 260 pound true freshman, automatically made him the heir apparent to Ford.
While there is a logjam for the two defensive tackle starting spots, the replacement for Lawson hasn’t been an easy one to fill for the Tigers.
Senior LaDarius Owens, who started 12 of 14 games last year at end, missed multiple days of practice with an infection in a surgical-repair area. He returned to practice Tuesday. Gabe Wright, who started camp at his natural defensive tackle spot, slowly got worked in at end. Now it seems Wright is taking a majority of snaps at end and will battle Owens for the starting job. Even starting linebacker Cassanova McKinzy has seen some time at end.
The battle for the other defensive end spot is between just two players: sophomore Elijah Daniel and junior college transfer DeVonte Lambert. Lambert has shown great potential thus far.
When Lawson gets the go-ahead from doctors to return is unknown. When that time arrives he’ll have a conversation with Garner about doing what is best. Depending how late in the season that occurs, it could mean Lawson redshirting. Until then both continue down the recovery path.
“My role right now is to keep encouraging him, keep working him and keep doing exactly what they say to do,” Garner said. “And then we’ll see how it goes.”