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Don't Look Now but Jets TE C.J. Uzomah & DL Carl Lawson Are Teammates Again

Fellow Georgians Played at Auburn, with Bengals, and Now Are Pushing Each Other Hard at Green & White Training Camp


One angle pro football writers can definitely count on, especially at this training camp time of year, is the interconnectedness of the players. New athletes arrive on their new teams all the time and they always have some old friends on the new roster that they haven't seen in a while and thus old war stories they can retell to dramatic and/or comic effect.

But C.J. Uzomah and Carl Lawson are getting ridiculous.

"This dude is a monster, OK?" Uzomah, the Jets' new veteran tight end, said after Thursday's second practice of training camp of his good friend and practice foe Lawson. "There's no walkthrough tempo with this man. He's like, 'No, I need to get my work in.' ... He gets me better at every phase."

"It's been a long road, and C.J. keeps following me everywhere," edge rusher Lawson said the previous day, adding with a playful smile. "We've got a good bond, but it's not as close as it should be, seeing how we've been teammates everywhere else."

And by everywhere else, Lawson means everywhere else.

Uzomah was born in Suwanee, GA in 1993, Lawson in Alpharetta, GA in 1995. The towns are 15 miles apart. "And his parents live in Suwanee, too," said Lawson. "That's where my mother lives."

Their high schools, North Gwinnett for Uzomah, Milton for Lawson, didn't play in those days but they could have. They're 20 miles apart, both 5-A schools in neighboring regions.

Both players attended Auburn and were Tigers teammates in 2013 and '14.

Uzomah was Cincinnati's fifth-round selection (157th overall) in the '15 NFL Draft, Lawson was the Bengals' fourth-rounder (116th) in 2017.

Lawson left Cincy in unrestricted free agency, joining the Jets on March 18 last year. Uzomah did the same this year, signing with the Green & White 363 days later on March 16.

Uzomah didn't soft-pedal his football development, giving a large share of credit to his frequent teammate as he described his "journey" from high school to the pros.

"Going to Auburn, I played quarterback [in high school], I didn't play tight end, I didn't know how to block. And I'm going against Carl — you'd better strap up," Uzomah said. "Going to Cincinnati, me getting the opportunity to go against him again, I'm like, 'I've got some moves. What's up?' And he has another thing in his bag, and I'm like, 'A'ight, I've got to adjust to this.' And now coming here, he's got a few more tools in his bag and I've got to adjust again.

"For me personally, getting to go against someone like him, I get to go against one of the best, I get to perfect my craft, because I know he's going to go out there and work every day."

See the Green & White on the field during Day 2 of Jets Training Camp.

Lawson had similar words of praise for his partner on the other side of the ball.

"He's tough, big, fast, physical. I didn't think he'd turn into this so I'm real proud of him. It's good to see him develop," Lawson said. "And I think he's a great leader. He started off [at Auburn] on special teams. That's one of the biggest things as far as leaders, it's not humbling yourself but you're kind of a self-made person. He's just a great dude and leads by example."

The two Georgia peas in a pod love to laugh and have fun, but they also know when and how it's time to strap it on and get serious. As Uzomah said when asked what his impact will be in his first season as a Jet:

"My impact is doing everything I can so we can get to the Super Bowl and win it. Whether it's on the field making unbelievable plays, off the field making sure we're on the same page with stuff, holding each other accountable ... whatever it is, everything I can."

And besides doing all that in his new tight ends room, with his new offense and his new team, Uzomah will be doing it with his old bud from several stops along the way. As Lawson said, "I'm glad to have him here now."

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