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Carl Lawson focusing on a Week 1 return

Forget training camp and the preseason, September 8th is all that Carl Lawson cares about.

Indianapolis Colts v Cincinnati Bengals

10 years ago, a torn ACL was considered a death sentence for an NFL player and sacks were still considered the only barometer for success for a pass rusher. Neither are true nowadays, and neither apply for Carl Lawson.

Through seven games last season, Lawson had a top-10 pass-rushing grade for edge rushers from Pro Football Focus despite having just one sack on the season at the time.

That number would stay at one for the remainder of the year as Lawson began the long road of recovering from a torn ACL. The start of the 2019 season would mark just over 11 months since Lawson last played, and he doesn’t intend to miss it.

“The goal is to be out there Week 1, and I’m feeling great,” Lawson told the hosts of NFL Network’s Good Morning Football. “Thankfully I can take care of my body, I’ve got a lot of different resources, I can fly to places, I can do everything underneath the sun because I have the money to do it. So, it’s been a great rehab process.”

Lawson’s injury was one of many that the Bengals had to deal with last season. While the defense got relatively better after defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was fired, Lawson’s presence was sorely missed during the team’s 1-9 stretch to end the year. The best teams are typically the healthiest ones, and Lawson expects Cincinnati to be that.

“You can expect a lot, but at the same time, in this league, that’s what separates different teams, being able to be healthy throughout the season,” Lawson explained. “I think the main thing is being able to have that depth, and that carry over, so when things do happen. You know, because everybody’s like ‘Oh, well if we were healthy, if this or that, whatever’ -- not that many injuries as we had last year -- but I think you can expect a lot from us.”

In a league so attached to regression, Lawson is one of the prime candidates to bounce back in 2019. When you create enough pressure, the sacks will eventually follow. Lawson may not be entirely healthy to begin the season, but when he does reach that point, you can expect more than one sack.