Shaq Lawson, the Buffalo Bills' top pick in this year's NFL Draft, will undergo surgery to repair a pre-existing issue in his right shoulder Tuesday, the team announced Monday, adding that a "timetable for his return is still being established."
The team said the outside linebacker from Clemson had "an occurrence of the condition" during the Bills' May 6-8 rookie minicamp, but provided no specifics.
Right after the Bills made Lawson the 19th overall draft choice on April 28, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Lawson would need shoulder surgery that probably would take place after his rookie season and require four to six months of recovery. On that schedule, Lawson would miss all of training camp, the preseason, and be ready for action no sooner than mid-September and mid-November at the latest.
The news for the Bills got even worse Monday when it was revealed that wide receiver Sammy Watkins suffered a broken foot during offseason workouts that also required surgery.
Lawson, who said he injured his right shoulder as a freshman, was expected to immediately replace former Bills defensive end Mario Williams and help improve a pass rush that showed a major decline last season.
"The Buffalo Bills are taking measures to prevent the possibility of Shaq Lawson aggravating a pre-existing shoulder condition during the season," the Bills said in a statement. "While he could continue to play, the Bills' medical staff has determined that surgery is the best course of action for the overall health of his shoulder moving forward.
"He had an occurrence of the condition last week but that would not preclude him from participating in the offseason program. Shaq is scheduled for surgery (Tuesday) on his shoulder with a rehabilitation program to follow. A timetable for his return is still being established."
When asked about the shoulder shortly after he was selected, Lawson said it was fine and that Schefter's report was inaccurate.
"No there is no truth to Adam Schefter’s report," Lawson said from the draft in Chicago during a conference call with reporters covering the Bills. "The report about me having surgery I don’t know where that comes from. I guess he just wanted to put something out there. If I didn’t have surgery my freshman year why would I need surgery now? I can still play ball."
General Manager Doug Whaley gave the following statement Monday:
"I want to take this opportunity to commend Shaq Lawson and his representatives for putting the team first by having this surgery on his shoulder done now. By doing so, he's forsaking personal goals to be 100 percent healthy when we will need him the most during the regular season. Fans constantly hear us say that we want players with tremendous character who keep team goals ahead of personal ones and Shaq is a great example of this."
Immediately after the Bills picked Lawson, Whaley told reporters, "Medical staff cleared him, said he can play. Now, if something happens, it’s going to happen, but it’s nothing that we’re real worried about or we wouldn’t have taken him. We got complete faith in our medical staff and they signed off on him, so we’re excited to have him."