Bills say former Clemson standout has not lived up to expectations
Though Shaq Lawson is about to head into his third season at Buffalo, some wonder if the Bills’ former first-round draft pick will even make it to the first game of the 2018 season in Buffalo, especially after what the team’s general manager said to The Athletic last month.
Rumors have been floating around all off-season that Lawson, who was a First-Team All-American for Clemson in 2015, could be traded. One rumor says he might be traded before Week 1 of the 2018 season.
Bill’s GM, Brandon Beane says Lawson has not lived up to the expectations they had set for him as the No. 19 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
“Shaq is a guy that this franchise put a lot of stock in with a first-round pick,” Beane said. “It’s no secret he hasn’t lived up to that. Sean (McDermott) and I are very frank. We try not to be rude, but we don’t beat around the bush. We laid out the expectations for Shaq.”
In his first two years in the league, Lawson has played in 21 games (started 11) and has not made it through an entire season due to injuries, an issue he wants to rectify this coming season.
“Right now, I’m just training. I’m training every day,” Lawson told The Clemson Insider. “I am staying on top of that. I’m eating right and doing extra stuff to keep my body healthy. I want to play a whole year.”
Lawson has shown Buffalo glimpses of what made him an All-American at Clemson.
Before suffering a season-ending ankle injury against New England in Week 13, Lawson was having a pretty good year in 2017. He totaled 33 tackles in the 11 games he played in, including four sacks. One of those sacks came on league MVP Tom Brady before his injury.
The 6-foot-3, 267-pound defensive end had six tackles against Carolina in Charlotte last season, including a sack of 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton. He also recorded four tackles against Tampa Bay, New Orleans, the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City.
Prior to injuring his ankle against New England, Lawson had three straight games in which he recorded four tackles.
The Bills like the response they have seen from Lawson this off-season. They can tell he is focused on taking care of himself and being the player they feel he can be. However, they are not satisfied. They want to see it continue into camp.
“I think he’s done a real good job to this point,” Beane said. “But we have a lot to go. We’re off for five weeks. What’s he going to do in these next five weeks? Is he going to take the next step from where he left off or is he going to regress?
“That’s the conversation we had. I think he wants it. I think he is more focused this year than what I saw last year.”
Lawson says he is motivated. He says all the trade rumors, the conversations he has had with the Bills and all the negative stories that have been written and reported about him has him ready to prove the doubters wrong.
“I have been motivated by everything that has been going on this whole off-season, the trade rumors and all of that,” Lawson said. “That has been driving me all off-season to get it right.”
The Bills still feel Lawson is a talented player and they feel the sky is the limit for him. However, they question how bad he really wants it.
“Some of these guys don’t know what it means to be a pro every day and that was part of the thing for him,” Beane said. “I think he’s now getting that. It is a big summer. Training camp will tell a lot about where his career in Buffalo is headed.”
Lawson will report to Buffalo’s training camp on July 26 at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, N.Y.
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