Some might claim Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter took one step forward and two steps back in his development last season. Despite recording career highs in every statical category (including games played), Carter was also benched for two games last year after being repeatedly burned in coverage. It can be argued that Carter’s entire professional career so far has been a giant step backwards. But can he do enough in 2014 to earn a new contract in Dallas?
After suffering an ACL injury in his last season at North Carolina, Carter dropped to the Cowboys in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft after being projected as a top-15 pick. But the rookie missed the entire offseason program, training camp and the first six weeks of the regular season while recovering from his knee injury, essentially making his first year a wash.
In his second season, the Cowboys started to show concerns about Carter’s abilities. During the offseason, the team signed free agent Dan Connor as insurance at the position. They also would have replaced Carter via the draft that year if the team hadn’t lost their second round pick in the Morris Claiborne trade. According to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, the team would have drafted linebacker Bobby Wagner with that traded pick, whom now plays for the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks.
Eventually, Carter won the starting role over Connor but he suffered a dislocated elbow in late November that ended his sophomore season early after racking up 70 tackles in 11 starts. In 2013, Carter recorded 96 tackles and the first two sacks of his short career. And he filled-in admirably when the Cowboys lost their defensive leader in linebacker Sean Lee at the end of the season.
But Carter is entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2014. And it is unknown whether Dallas will opt to re-sign him. But according to what Jones told the Dallas Morning News last month, he believes Carter can still be a great player.
“There’s an old adage, if you’ve seen him do it a few times, you know they can do it at least and you go from there. We know (Carter) can do what this defense calls for and be outstanding. We have some real reasons to be excited about him and certainly he’d be the first to say that he had some things that he’d like to take back. Overall, he’s got a future here … and that’s a positive. It’s not a condition, he’s going to become more of a pro and more understanding about the kind of commitment and the kind of detail and preparation it takes and he’ll be a lot better for it. He’s got the other stuff that nobody can coach, and that is speed and physical assets.”
But do you believe Carter will actually live up to his second round billing this season? Does he have a future in Dallas? Place your vote below and feel free to explain your pick in our comments section.
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