In the span of one calendar year, Dallas Cowboys inside linebacker Bruce Carter has gone from untested rookie to the signal-caller of the team’s defense heading into Sunday’s game at Atlanta (7-0).
Carter, a second-round draft choice in 2011, spent the first six weeks of last season rehabbing from knee surgery for a torn ACL suffered during his senior season at North Carolina. He was activated for the first time on Oct. 29 and played in the final 10 games, primarily on special teams.
Carter has been a starter this season and, because of a season-ending toe injury to teammate Sean Lee, will call the defensive signals for the Cowboys (3-4) for the second consecutive week against the Falcons.
“It’s a whole lot different. Last year, I was just kind of nervous coming in to play in my first game in the NFL,” Carter said, reflecting on the increased responsibility he has shouldered for the Cowboys within the past year. “This year, I’m really in the mix. The situation is different, with Sean (Lee) being out. I’m trying to take it one play at a time and just study as much as I can and make sure everyone is on the right track.”
Coach Jason Garrett praised Carter, who played all 60 defensive snaps in last week’s 29-24 loss to the New York Giants, for playing “particularly well” in his debut as the Cowboys’ defensive signal-caller. Carter said he is adjusting to his new role and hopes to continue making progress against Atlanta.
“It’s obviously going to take a little bit to get used to, but I think it went pretty well,” Carter said. “I think we did a great job of communicating.”
In terms of whether he feels like a veteran on the field, Carter said: “I still feel like I’m young. There’s still a lot of my game ahead of me. I’m learning every day … I wouldn’t say I’m a rookie on the field. I’ve played, obviously. But I still feel like I’m young in the NFL.”