Carl Lawson’s Bengals replacement thriving before Jets matchup

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Carl Lawson’s old team comes to town in Week 8, and his replacement could wreak havoc on the Jets offensive line.

After four years and 20 sacks with the Bengals, Lawson left to join the Jets on a three-year, $45 million deal over the offseason. In search of a new pass-rusher, the Bengals turned to the similarly impressive but relatively-unknown Trey Hendrickson.

Cincinnati was questioned for signing Hendrickson to a four-year, $65 million deal after only one productive season in New Orleans, but the decision has paid off thus far. Hendrickson is among the league’s best at rushing the passer and ranks fourth in sacks with 6.5, third in pressures with 23, and eighth in quarterback hits with 12 through just seven games.

Hendrickson’s presence, along with a few others, has played a key role in the Bengals’ defensive rise. Cincinnati ranks fifth in sacks, second in pressures and allows just 94 rushing yards per game and an 84.8 quarterback rating. The Bengals sit atop the AFC North with an impressive 5-2 record after a huge win over the Baltimore Ravens.

Lawson, meanwhile, is rehabbing a ruptured Achilles suffered over the summer. It was a debilitating injury that crippled a promising Jets defense after tales of Lawson’s training camp dominance. New York has suffered for it; it ranks in the middle of the league in a lot defensive statistics and near the bottom in points and yards allowed.

The scenarios just as easily could have been reversed for either team, though. It’s impossible to predict an injury like an Achilles tear. Lawson, however, didn’t like the Bengals’ initial contract offer, which featured one year guaranteed, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano. His deal with the Jets included $30 million guaranteed, while Hendrickson’s slightly larger deal only came with $16 million guaranteed.

Now the Jets will face Hendrickson and the Bengals with QB Mike White making his first NFL start behind a porous offensive line. It’s an unideal situation for New York, but one Robert Saleh and the Jets will need to manage if they want to be competitive on Sunday.

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How does Carl Lawson's season-ending injury impact him and the Jets?