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Carl Lawson sets high goals for his first year with the Jets

Carl Lawson #58 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks

Carl Lawson #58 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks on during warmups before the game against the New York Giants at Paul Brown Stadium on November 29, 2020 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Credit: Getty Images/Justin Casterline

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Carl Lawson has really high expectations for himself. He describes his potential as "otherworldly."

That’s all the new Jets defensive end will share about his goals, and he won’t lambaste himself if he doesn’t reach them. But he’s going to do everything he can to achieve his lofty ambitions.

"Not every goal that you set is going to happen because there’s external factors," Lawson said after an OTA practice Thursday. "But I will do everything in my power possible to reach my highest level of potential in what I think I can possibly be, which is something otherworldly.

"At the same if I was ever to fall short, I’d be OK with that because I know I did everything I could do to possibly get myself there."

Lawson’s passion and hunger to be great are a couple of things that made him the Jets’ big offseason signing.

They needed an edge rusher regardless, but a potentially havoc-wreaking one for new head coach Robert Saleh’s 4-3 defense was a must. The Jets gave Lawson a three-year, $45 million contract to fill that role, and they expect he will.

Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich has been impressed with how hard Lawson works and how "obsessed" he is with technique and becoming the best technical pass rusher in the league. If that is one of Lawson’s goals, he wouldn’t divulge it.

Lawson, 25, believes he will have more sacks than the 5.5 he had last season with Cincinnati. But as far as sack total or anything particular he’s shooting for, Lawson said very little.

He writes down his goals and makes little notes for things he wants to accomplish and has them on his refrigerator or somewhere in his home that he can see them. Lawson said it’s a day-by-day thing and it helps in his preparation.

"I put in my notes what I want to get better each year and you have long-term goals and things," Lawson said. "I reach above and beyond."

This was the Jets’ last week of OTAs and the first week that Lawson attended. Not surprisingly, he wouldn’t say why he stayed away. But Lawson had been working out on his own, doing drills the Jets sent him as well as his own workouts. Lawson spent Memorial Day Weekend training in Las Vegas at the UFC's Performance Institute.

The Jets held Lawson out of team reps this week, but he worked with his position coaches and on individual drills. Saleh called it "an acclimation period," since he hadn’t been with the team. But he’s expected to fully participate in next week’s mandatory minicamp.

The defensive line appears to be a position of strength for the Jets. They believe that with Quinnen Williams and Sheldon Rankins on the interior pushing the pocket, it will enable Lawson to be more of a force. Lawson agrees, but he believes he can be one anyway.

"I kind of have the mindset of no matter who it is around me I should win my one-on-one and produce," Lawson said. "We have great interior players. But the way I think about it is just go win and produce, no matter what the situation is because what if everybody got hurt. I’m not going to use that as excuse for sacks, just think about winning, improve and get better."

Notes & quotes: The Jets signed former Falcons safety Sharrod Neasman and placed offensive lineman Parker Ferguson on IR. Neasman started two games in five seasons with Atlanta. Neasman reunites with Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich. He was Atlanta’s defensive coordinator last year.

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