Cardinals DL Rashard Lawrence focusing on availability in elevated role

May 25, 2022, 6:18 PM
J.J. Watt #99 and Rashard Lawrence #90 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrate their 37-14 win against t...
J.J. Watt #99 and Rashard Lawrence #90 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrate their 37-14 win against the Cleveland Browns after the game at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

Third-year defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence has proven to be a capable depth option in the middle for the Arizona Cardinals.

In his first two seasons, Lawrence has been used situationally through a rotation that included Corey Peters, Jordan Phillips and fellow 2020 draftee Leki Fotu.

Depending on the game, the 315-pound nose tackle took on a bigger role for a few fixtures as he fought for reps.

But this year, it’ll be a different story.

With Phillips in Buffalo and Peters still a free agent, it’s just Lawrence and Fotu at the top of the depth chart between Zach Allen and J.J. Watt.

Step one for Lawrence is staying healthy. A calf injury last year in Week 6 sidelined him for six games, and in his rookie year, it was another calf injury that also kept him out across six games.

“Number one thing for me is health,” Lawrence said of his top goal this season to Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke on Wednesday. “The first two years I’ve missed some games and that’s kind of hurt the team. So for me, it’s be there every game, be available every game and that’s the number one thing.”

Lawrence started seven games for the Cardinals last season, racking up 11 total tackles, six of which were solo. He said he spent all offseason making sure his body was right so the calf issue that “slowed him down” or anything else won’t prevent him from having the kind of availability that has been emphasized to him by the coaching staff.

The fourth-round pick from the 2020 NFL Draft is in a unique position where he has been with Arizona under the same head coach (Kliff Kingsbury) and defensive coordinator (Vance Joseph) throughout his whole career thus far.

He expects everything to really come together now with two seasons of continuity to build off of.

“I think that we’ve had growing pains the first couple of years but we’ve also had some bright spots that we can build off of,” he said. “Going into Year 3, we know what’s expected. We got to sniff the playoffs last year and see a little bit about what playoff football is all about but now there are no excuses. Because we know the ropes, we know what V.J. is asking us to do and preparing for that. I definitely think going into Year 3 it’ll will be a lot of good things going on.”

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