As of August, ILB Bruce Carter didn’t even have a starting job locked up. But in November, he might be the man in the spotlight on the Cowboys’ defense. That’s because with Sean Lee — the team’s most valuable defender the first seven games — out for the season and Dan Connor also nicked up, Carter is being asked to shoulder more of the load.
To this point, he has acquitted himself well. Carter handled all the defensive calls in Week Eight for the first time, and there were few if any glaring mistakes defensively. He had everyone lined up, communicated well and the effort on that side of the ball was crisp and effective.
When Connor went down in the Giants game, Carter was paired with either former undrafted free agent Orie Lemon or Ernie Sims, recently signed after being out of football most of last season, and no drop-off was evident. Carter’s athleticism is off the charts, and though he isn’t anywhere close to Lee’s level in pass coverage yet, Carter has shown he can compete in all phases of the game.
Team sources praise the work of LB coach Matt Eberflus, who has helped accelerate Carter’s development from athlete to player. Carter missed a big chunk of his rookie season in 2011, then was relegated primarily to special teams when he did see the field down the stretch — and yet he has stepped up his game so far.