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Bengals Marvin Lewis to expand Lawson’s role into linebacker

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CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 01: Carl Lawson #58 of the Cincinnati Bengals reacts to a play in the first half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Justin Aller /Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 01: Carl Lawson #58 of the Cincinnati Bengals reacts to a play in the first half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Justin Aller /Getty Images) /
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Marvin Lewis talked about Carl Lawson’s role expanding into a linebacker in 2018 at the NFL meetings in Orlando, FL.

Linebacker Carl Lawson, who played defensive end at Auburn, had a breakout rookie season for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2017. While he was a defensive end in college and played that role primarily for the Bengals last season, the Bengals look to expand his role into a linebacker spot. Lawson is listed as a linebacker on the depth chart and even has a linebacker number.

The 2017 fourth-round pick recorded just as many pressures as some of the top names in the NFL. Despite the limited snaps, 41.6% of the team’s defensive snaps, Lawson led all rookies in sacks with 8.5 on the season. Pro Football Focus gave Lawson 59 total pressures on the season and listed him in the top ten players that could make the site’s top 101 players in 2018.

With new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, former Detroit Lions defensive coordinator the past four seasons, the defense is likely to see some changes. Head coach Marvin Lewis said that he brought in Austin because he felt that he wouldn’t make too many changes to the defense with the personnel coming back in 2018. He didn’t want to see a huge change on defense and brought in a coach that could execute under the current scheme with minor tweaks.

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“I thought it was important to have somebody that would stay within our structure because of the personnel we have returning and that we didn’t have to make a drastic change,” Lewis said. “The people that I reached out to — we only really had one come in officially — would not have our players have to re-learn the wheel.”

Lewis is in Orlando, Florida for the NFL meetings this week and he discussed the team expanding Carl Lawson’s role into a linebacker in 2018. With his struggles against the run game, the team kept him off the field on many early downs in 2017. The Bengals want him to be on the field more in 2018 but in the best spots for him to succeed.

We could see Lawson in a standing position along the defensive line and see him drop into some coverage packages this coming season. It also could mean he will be blitzing from different parts of the defense. Forcing a quarterback to find Lawson each play instead of knowing exactly where he will be could be an advantage that the Bengals are looking at.

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It will be interesting to see where they move him around considering all of the defensive ends and linebackers from last season, outside of Kevin Minter who has already been replaced by Preston Brown, will be back in 2018. Who will Cincinnati pull snaps away from to move Lawson into a more linebacker role this coming season?

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