Green Bay is a special place for Jets DE Carl Lawson for conflicting reasons. His first career sack came against Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field in 2017 (he had 2.5 that game). Last August, Lawson ruptured his Achilles tendon in a joint practice with the Packers, ending his 2021 season, his first with the Jets.
Are there any emotions going back to Titletown?
"No," he said.
How about playing Aaron Rodgers?
"Extreme challenge," he said. "Practiced against him, played against him and it's really hard and tough every time that I've done it. But I'm ready to step up to the plate."
Lawson, coming off a game with 7 QB hits and a strip sack, is eager to line up for the first time against Packers All-Pro LT David Bakhtiari. Bakhtiari did not play in the Bengals-Packers game in 2017.
"He came up to me after the game and was like good game, but you know deep down he was like, 'You know you wouldn't have gotten that if it was me,' " Lawson said. "So it was always like one of those fated things where I can't wait to compete against such a good player. Last year going to Green Bay, he wasn't healthy. I had studied all that week because it was a warrior's respect to go against him. Now we finally get our chance both coming off injuries, so it'll be a fun matchup."
Lawson added: "He's so explosive. He gets to the set point, he's a craftsman. … He has a ridiculous grip strength.
For Jets' OC Mike LaFleur, Sunday's game will be a family affair as New York takes on Green Bay and his brother, Packers' HC Matt LaFleur.
"My mindset is solely on these players, putting Zach [Wilson] and the rest of the offense in the position to go out and get the results that they want," Mike LaFleur said. "Do we talk about it sometimes in the offseason? Sure. Does my mom not like this game? Sure. But this is the sixth time we have played against each other. … So, we're kind of used to it."
He added: "We probably spend too much time together in the summer, if you ask our wives. But once we go back to work unless we get joint practices, we don't get to see each other."
Mike (offensive assistant) and Matt (quarterbacks coach) shared childhoods and also football infancies when they were on the Atlanta Falcons coaching staff in 2015-16.
Before taking over in Green Bay, Matt coached Jets WR Corey Davis as the Tennessee OC in 2018, Davis' second season in the NFL. He had a then career-high 65 receptions, 891 yards and 4 TDs.
"A real good dude, good people," Davis said. "Obviously extremely smart and had a lot of success. So, I am excited to go against him."
See the top practice images leading up to the Week 6 matchup against the Packers.
Special Teams Ace
Jets special teams ace Justin Hardee has the highest Pro Football Focus grade among players who have played at least 50% of the snaps. Entering Year 2 with the Jets, he feels like he's scratching the surface. He leads the team with 4 special teams tackles and forced a fumble on a return at Pittsburgh, and recovered an onside kick at Cleveland. Packers returner Amari Rodgers has 2 fumbles including one last week against the Giants in London.
"You see it on film, but I'm attacking him like I attack each returner every single week," Hardee said. "Nothing changes because he's put the ball on the ground. I would love to get the ball and that's ultimately up to me."