Last week, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said he was surprised by linebacker Bruce Carter’s sudden ascension.
Monday, Carter said, me too.
“Yeah, I think so,” he said. “Me being able to learn the defense and adapt as fast as I did – I mean, I think for me, my huge thing was just learning the playbook, and then once I learned that, it slowed everything down for me and then I was able to just play. Now I just basically line up, run to the ball, ball here, pads drop, just play football, basically.”
Carter has had to make a sudden rise. He is the signal-caller for the Cowboys defense now in the place of Sean Lee, who’s out for the season with a ligament tear in his toe.
In four games since Lee went out, Carter has 33 tackles, six tackles for loss, three pass breakups and a quarterback pressure. He had five tackles Sunday against Cleveland.
He was already a starter when the season began, after missing much of last season recovering from a knee injury suffered in college. But now the second-year player is thriving with the extra work.
“It’s been different,” he said of the change from last year to this year. “I didn’t play nearly as much as I do now. I’m just trying to take everything in stride, learn as much as I can. I still talk to Sean about things I don’t know, and ’Flus and Rob and everybody. So, I mean, I’m still learning. A lot of my game is ahead of me, and I’m still learning every day.”
Carter said he did as much as he could while he was hurt, but there is no substitute for playing.
“Being hurt, there’s no way around it. It just sucks, period,” he said. “Not being able to play, you’re not in the loop or none of that. So any time you’re able to play, you develop chemistry with your teammates. That’s something I missed last year. That’s something I value a lot this year.”
Carter is now second on the team in tackles with 71. Lee, out since the second half of the Carolina game, still leads with 77.
Carter said he mastered the playbook early in the season.“I knew it coming in towards the end of training camp and in the preseason, but you know, you learn it, but then you’ve got to have game experience behind it,” he said. “And then you just calm down and you settle in and you just play.”
-- Carlos Mendez