ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Rex Ryan has spent most of the week laying out the patient approach he’d be taking in regards to rookie, first-round pick Shaq Lawson. Fresh off the physically unable to perform list, the Bills didn’t want to rush their shiny, new pass-rusher back too soon, staying mostly non-committal about whether or not he’d play this weekend in Miami.
However on Thursday, that “easing him in” mentality was long gone, as Ryan couldn’t contain his giddiness.
“Oh, yeah. I think he’s gonna play,” a noticeably perked up Ryan said when asked if Lawson would play Sunday. “I’ve seen enough. He looks pretty darn good out there.”
Lawson, 22, has apparently made the decision an easy one for Buffalo with an impressive first two days of practice, showing no hesitations and an understanding of his assignment.
“He’s flying around and, he looked like the guy that we drafted. You know the guy we wanted him to be,” Ryan added. “We’ll see how, once we get the live games going and all that, but there’s a reason we took him in the first-round and he’s showing that on the practice field.”
Because Lawson began the season on the PUP list this was the first week he was eligible to return to practice. By NFL rule the Bills have 21 days from the day he returned to decide if they will activate him to the 53-man roster or designate him to the IR and end his season. Since Lawson is clearly performing well, the latter isn’t even an option, and it’s likely that Buffalo will push to activate him sooner rather than later. If they’re serious about him playing in Miami this weekend they’ll have to make a move in the next two days.
“I’m pretty sure,” Ryan reiterated in regards to Lawson’s status for Sunday. “Obviously I’m overstepping my bounds by saying he’s gonna be up. I just need one phone call to Whales (Doug Whaley); he’s gonna be up.”
If Ryan’s comments from earlier this week hold true, Lawson’s role on Sunday will be limited to spelling fellow OLB’s Jerry Hughes and Lorenzo Alexander, and working in on various subpackages. However, just like the decision to play Lawson made a complete 180, Ryan’s plan for the rookie may accelerate too.
Either way, in three short days Bills fans can expect to see Lawson making his NFL debut.
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