Last year it was apparent that the Bengals’ defensive line wasn’t getting the job done towards the end of the season. Two big reasons for this was the team losing defensive linemen Carl Lawson and Ryan Glasgow to ACL injuries last season.
The two spent their time rehabbing together, which helped motivate each other through the grueling process.
“Especially with something like this it’s really tough, it’s great to have somebody to stick it out with,” Lawson told Paul Dehner Jr. of the Athletic. “Glass (Glasgow) has been a real blessing. As mentally tough as I am you still need another guy to help you out when you are going through something.”
A rehab process is anything but ideal. It is such a frustrating process at time, but it is the perfect opportunity for people going through it together to have each others backs. It is also a great chance to get closer to a teammate.
“To have someone like Carl to come through the whole process with almost, to bounce ideas off of and go through rehab together during those early mornings in the winter when you don’t really want to get up,” said Glasgow. “Your knee is sore but you have to come do the work. To have somebody to do that with was really important.
“Carl and I were friends before this but off the field knowing each other’s personal lives you become closer to that person. You go through the exact same experience. It’s kind of like being on a football team except it’s that much deeper of an experience. The tough times — like camp brings teams together — going through tough shit brings people together. And it’s brought Carl and I closer together.”
Having these young players get so close is always a good thing. Right now the Bengals have guys like Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins leading the group, but both of them are over 30-years-old. It won’t be long before Lawson and Glasgow may be relied on by younger players to help acclimate them to the NFL. Them building that friendship off the field now will only make that process easier down the road.
It is also easy to see how missing each of these players impacted the Bengals defense last season. Glasgow was looking much improved after a decent rookie season. When he went down, it was obvious that Cincinnati was straining to try and cover his snaps. Lawson was a bit more visible of a loss to more casual fans. He had 8.5 sacks his rookie season, and he was constantly pressuring quarterbacks last year even when the sacks didn’t follow.
These two returning to the field should really help out a defense that struggled to put consistent pressure on the passer in the second half of the 2018 season. The big question becomes when are they planning to come back?
“I am not coming out until I feel pretty much 100 (percent),” Lawson said. “The goal is the first game. I know what it is like to get ready and be ready. I am not really stressing pushing towards camp but if I am ready by camp, hell, yeah, I’ll be out there. But the goal is first game… I really do believe I am coming back as a better football player and not as a football player that is catching up. That’s just the way I feel about it.”
Lawson’s injury was sustained in Week 8 last year, so his injury was a little more recent than Glasgow’s. It makes sense Lawson is okay with taking his time. Realistically, Lawson won’t be that far behind if he misses some of training camp. His role should still be fairly similar to pass rushing in more obvious pass rushing situations, especially considering he is coming off such a serious injury. He knows how to rush the passer, it’s a matter of him being confident in his body to pull off the moves he is accustomed to using.
Glasgow is a little bit more confident in returning earlier, according to Dehner Jr., “Glasgow expects to be ready for the beginning of training camp.”
His addition back into rotation means the team doesn’t have to rely as much on defensive ends kicking inside to help on pass rushing downs. It also means Atkins can take some snaps off during earlier downs if necessary. Glasgow may not be a starter, but he should end up with a decent amount of snaps next season.
The possibility of having both of these young players back for Week 1 next season is huge for this new coaching staff. The Bengals defense started off playing pretty well, but fell to the bottom of the NFL pretty quickly. These two coming back should help drag the defense back out of the basement.