When Shaq Lawson heard the news that he was traded to the Jets over the weekend, the veteran defensive end was elated.
Not only did the former first-round pick have a fresh start with a chance for quite a bit of playing time, but he had an opportunity to play for head coach Robert Saleh.
"I know what type of coach they got up here, who they bought up here and I think my energy matches his energy," Lawson told reporters on Wednesday. "I saw him coach the 49ers defense the last couple of years. So when I found out I was coming up here, I was excited. That's what I like to do, be myself."
If Lawson is able to bring his best to the Jets, it could be a dangerous addition to this defense.
New York sent a sixth-round pick to the Houston Texans on Sunday to acquire Lawson, a player that's produced, but hasn't completely lived up to his sky-high expectations coming out of Clemson.
The 27-year-old is now entering his sixth season in the pros with a total of 20.5 sacks under his belt. That's nothing to sneeze at, but the former 19th overall selection has only had more than four sacks in one campaign (6.5 in 2019). Who knows what kind of numbers he can produce in the right place while staying healthy.
Asked about bringing in Lawson, to fill gaping holes on New York's injury-ravaged defensive line, Jets general manager Joe Douglas had nothing but good things to say about his newest pass rusher.
"Shaq brings energy. We talk about junk-yard dog mentality, Shaq brings that," Douglas said. "He’s brought it since day one. I remember evaluating him at Clemson, he brought that mentality, that toughness, that grit that we want. The strain, the intent, he brings that. So excited to have him and I know he’s excited about letting his personality show and being the player we all know he is."
Just like Lawson said, it sounds like he'll fit in nicely under Saleh, who preaches all gas and no brakes.
"[Saleh] likes dogs. And I feel like I meet what he wants," Lawson added.
With both Carl Lawson (no relation) and Vinny Curry out for the year, Shaq is a favorite to get plenty of opportunities on the edge early and often. Accustomed to New York's defensive scheme, Lawson explained that before the regular season begins in 10 days, he'll be tending to his body while mastering the wrinkles of Gang Green's playbook. That, and growing bonds with his teammates, of course.
Even with the huge void left behind by Carl, suiting up for a new team this close to Week 1, Shaq said he doesn't feel any extra pressure. He's just enjoying the ride and doing what he loves: playing football.
"At the end of day, man, I'm waking up doing something I love every morning," he said. "It don't matter what team you're on. If you're on a team somebody wants you. That's when I start worrying, when nobody wants you. That'll be different."
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