Linebacker Bruce Carter knows he needs to play better. He knows he needs to make more plays. But he admittedly doesn’t understand what the coaches are trying to do with him and certainly doesn’t think the reasons for his second benching of the season was legit.
“To be honest, I really don’t even know,” Carter said Monday. “It really wasn’t legit. It is what it is.”
Ernie Sims got the start against the Vikings Sunday at weakside linebacker though Carter played the majority of the second half. It came a month after he benched in the second half of a Week 4 loss to the Chargers and relegated to backup role in the nickel defense the next week against the Broncos.
Carter played the majority of the snaps the next two games against the Redskins and Eagles before splitting time against the Lions and then being replaced as the starter for the Vikings game.
“To be honest, I really don’t,” said about the motivation of the coaches. “It has been frustrating at times, but I just try to stay encouraged and stay in the game, cheer my teammates on when I’m not in the game. At the end of the day, it is what it is.”
Although Sims played more snaps against the Vikings, Carter played better and was credited with more tackles, six to three. His play certainly caught the eye of the coaches.
“I think we saw a lot of what Bruce Carter is able to do in that game,” Garrett said. “He flew around a little bit more and was very productive, made tackles in space, made two key third-down stops for us and just seemed to be more active and played more decisively and with more confidence.”
Owner Jerry Jones echoed Garrett on his weekly radio on Tuesday, saying Carter played his best game of the season and will get more opportunities going forward.
“We have seen a lot of players that have all the skills that have to be able to turn it into winning football,” Jones said. “I think he’s approached that Sunday and you assume more of it in my view and nobody’s being punitive. It’s just be where you’re supposed to be. You have to this scheme. You can’t freelance at all. You’ve got to play responsibility. Then, you turn on your God-given talent, which he’s got plenty of. I thought he did a better job of that than any game I’ve seen him play this year.”
Carter admits he had trouble adjusting to the scheme under new coordinator Monte Kiffin, which caused him to overanalyze things and not play as fast as he should. He says he is more comfortable now.
“I’m a guy that kind of overanalyzes things too much,” Carter said. “When I do that, it kind of slows me down. I don’t think it’s a matter of me not running to the ball or loafing. I’m just thinking too much, overthinking things instead of letting my instincts [take over], just going out there and playing. But I think that’s out of there. I’m more relaxed. The scheme is more comfortable now. I’m going out there and playing.”
Carter said he never lost confidence in himself though he acknowledges he has work to do to gain the coaches trust again. He said he needs to make plays.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’m questioning myself,” Carter said. “I know my talent I know what I can do. I would say that’s entirely their decision. They’re the coaches. It’s my job to just go out there and play football when my number is called. As far as all the rotations and that stuff that’s for them. I can play at this level and be productive at it. I showed last game. I’ve never doubted myself. I’m just trying to get whatever the coaches are looking for from me to get back on the field.”
Carter doesn’t deny that the whole situation has been an eye-opening learning experience that had him go from anger, to frustration to resolve to be better.
“In the beginning I was very frustrated,” Carter said. “I was mad. You just have to take it one day at a time and just come out here and practice every day and when your number is called go out here and play.”