Who would have guessed it would work out this well?
"It's going to feel better to know that I'm 100 percent," Lawson said of his official return to the practice field Wednesday, via the team site. "We took care of the problem with my shoulder and went to see one of the greatest doctors in New York. Being 100 percent it's going to be a better Shaq on the field."
In Lawson's absence, the Bills uncovered Lorenzo Alexander, a 33-year-old veteran and former undrafted free agent who has eight sacks already this season. That is roughly half of his career total (17) through 10 NFL seasons. The bonus here is that Lawson will essentially be used in rotation, and he can get his feet wet on long third downs and other advantageous situations for a young player looking to build confidence.
"We know he is a really good talent, and I think combined with the players that we have, I think it will be good," Bills head coach Rex Ryan said. "I think as far as saying well is he a starter, well no he is not going to start now. But we are going to work Shaq in there."
Ryan will work Lawson in because he can't help himself. For a coach truly enamored with his defense, the chance to add arguably the best pass rusher available in the 2016 NFL Draft has to be eating him alive. According to NFL Network's Kimberly Jones, Lawson appeared in a helmet and full pads Wednesday for the first time since the 2015 national championship game against Alabama.
It underscores the good vibes in Orchard Park these days -- ones that no one expected when Ryan's team sustained a heavy number of injuries and off-the-field tumult this summer. The NFL has a funny way of working out sometimes, and Lawson can help push the team's good fortunes even farther.