The $100 million pass rusher missed the past 10 games due to a foot injury. One of the best edge rushers in the NFL made his presence felt as the Cowboys tried to ease him back into the rotation.
"I was very excited to see him," interim coach and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said, per the Dallas Morning News. "He's got such a quickness and violence with his hands and his play style. So I was expecting he would look rusty, and he did not. It was a difficult night, chasing and chipping on the edges to go but his attitude and his mindset, and now I'm hopeful we can keep stacking weeks and weeks as we're building and his playtime will increase."
Lawrence played 37 snaps, exceeding Quinn's expectation for the 29-year-old, who's been out since Week 1 with the broken foot. He compiled two tackles, two pass breakups, a QB hit, and two pressures. Lawrence's quick first step didn't appear hampered in his return. Next Gen Stats clocked the edge rusher's average get-off as 1.01 seconds, tied for the best mark among front-seven players on the Cowboys with stud rookie Micah Parsons.
Getting Lawrence back for the stretch run should be huge for a Cowboys defense that has battled injuries to the D-line. With the Pro Bowler's return, offenses will have an even harder time directing resources at Parsons, who has thrust his name into the Defensive Player of the Year (not just rookie) race.
With Randy Gregory's potential return next week as well, Dallas' defensive line is getting healthy as we hit the vital stretch of the season. Having both Lawrence and Gregory back on the field will open Dallas' options with Parsons, who has proven a menace wherever he's lined up.
With the Cowboys' offense experiencing struggles of late, having a defense that can make life difficult on opponents -- particularly rushing the QB -- will be huge for Dallas if it plans to make a deep push into January.