The Dallas Cowboys have survived his absence, and despite completely lacking a pass rushing defensive end, are 3-1 through the first quarter of their season. Now, they welcome back the team's sack leader from a season ago, needing for him to make an impact immediately.
After missing most of his rookie season, and only recording one single sack through the first 8 games of his sophomore season, Lawrence reached new heights during the final 8 games of that same season. Tallying 7 sacks during those 8 games, Lawrence made his presence felt each and every week, ending his season on a high note and giving fans a reason to believe in him.
Some attributed his increased production to the emergence of defensive end Greg Hardy, as offenses had to shift their focus towards neutralizing Hardy, giving Lawrence more opportunities to work one on one against offensive tackles.
This may be partly true, but the reverse effect might be seen this season. If Lawrence can establish himself as a legitimate pass rush threat this week, teams will be forced to focus on him, chipping him with running backs or maybe even keeping tight ends in to help block him.
When this becomes the case, the other Cowboys' defensive linemen will have the chance to work. I would specifically look to rookie defensive tackle Maliek Collins, who has shown a ton of promise as a pass rusher. Enough so that he has faced an incredible amount of double teams these past few games.
To be honest, I think it is fair to expect a lot out of Lawrence. All of the reports out of training camp about him were glowing, and he looked excellent against the Cowboys offensive tackles during one on one drills.
You take these reports with a grain of salt of course, but Lawrence even looked much bigger physically when he came to camp this summer. That could help his bull rush, and help him in run support as well.
The Cowboys need Lawrence to come up big this season. They gambled big time on their young defensive linemen, and despite their record, it hasn't been great so far.
In a way, Lawrence is the last hope of this season. He had displayed all of the tools to come through and be a real pass rushing threat, and for the sake of the Cowboys, he must be.