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.”

Arizona Cardinals

Budda Baker #3 of the Arizona Cardinals looks on during the second quarter against the Carolina Pan...

Wills Rice

ESPN’s Bowen: Best potential landing spots for Budda Baker, DeAndre Hopkins

ESPN's Matt Bowen gave the best potential landing spots for both wideout DeAndre Hopkins and Cardinals safety Budda Baker.

1 day ago

James Conner...

Tyler Drake

No complaints: Cardinals’ James Conner excited to ‘prove people wrong’ with new regime

While outside expectations are some of the lowest they have been in Cardinals history, RB James Conner isn't focused on the external noise.

1 day ago

Kyler Murray...

Arizona Sports

Simms: Cardinals’ Kyler Murray in ‘clock’s ticking’ tier of NFL quarterbacks

After going down with a season-ending knee injury, can Kyler Murray return to form and be one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL?

2 days ago

DeAndre Hopkins...

Tyler Drake

Gannon: WR DeAndre Hopkins’ release best thing for Cardinals

No matter how it all shook out, the Arizona Cardinals parting ways with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins this offseason was expected.

2 days ago

Kyzir White...

Tyler Drake

Kyzir White already running with role as Cardinals’ defensive general

Kyzir White's role at MIKE linebacker could slide Zaven Collins to the edge for the Arizona Cardinals defense.

3 days ago

Hollywood Brown...

Tyler Drake

Marquise Brown leads Cardinals WRs into life post-DeAndre Hopkins

There's no way around it, the Arizona Cardinals' wide receivers room took a shot Friday morning with the release of DeAndre Hopkins.

3 days ago

Cardinals DL Rashard Lawrence focusing on availability in elevated role