Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson tempered expectations Monday regarding the possible return of Carl Lawson to the lineup at some point early this season.
Lawson suffered a torn ACL during spring practice, but he’s aggressively rehabbed the injury and teammates have been excited about his progress. Those teammates believe Lawson will be ready to contribute at some point during the season.
An ACL injury normally requires six to nine months of recovery time. Even if Lawson is ahead of schedule and cleared to play this fall, it won’t be until later in the season.
“It’s been a remarkable rehab and recovery,” Johnson said on SiriusXM’s College Sports Today. “He’s way ahead of schedule, but I would say half a season would be optimistic.”
If Lawson completes is rehab within the six-month time frame after having ACL surgery May 1, the earliest he will be ready to play is Nov. 1 against the Ole Miss Rebels.
The Tigers can’t rely on Lawson potentially recovering faster than expected. The coaching staff has to plan accordingly and develop other pass rushers on the team.
“We don’t know when we’re going to get (Lawson) back,” Johnson said. “I think we’ve got some guys who can step up.”
Johnson may be able to manufacture a pass rush with multiple looks along the defensive line. Defensive tackles Gabe Wright and Montravius Adams have both practiced at defensive end, and they’ll provide push from both the interior and the edge throughout games. Senior defensive end LaDarius Owens will also need to step up in Lawson’s absence and develop into the team’s primary edge rusher.
(Hat tip: Al.com)