Bruce Carter didn’t need the Cowboys coaches to tell him he didn’t play up to expectations last year. He knew it.
The fourth-year linebacker plans to put his best foot forward this season.
“In the NFL, man, you go through your highs and your lows,” Carter said. “I think that’s just growth. Every player is going to have to go through it and experience that. But you’ve got to learn from it. I’m going to keep pushing. I’m a fighter. I’m going to just keep going.”
Carter, 26, earned a benching last season and finished with only 96 tackles. The Tampa 2 is designed for the weakside linebacker – the position Derrick Brooks played for the Bucs -- to lead the team in tackles. Carter was only third behind safety Barry Church and middle linebacker Sean Lee.
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New defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is making life easier for Carter this season by implementing “travel rules” within the scheme. Simply, it means Carter will line up behind 3-technique Henry Melton on every play, even if it’s on the strong side. Melton will serve as Carter’s “protector,” allowing Carter to get to the football by keeping linemen occupied.
“I think that’s a good adjustment obviously from just positioning and a simplicity factor,” linebackers coach Matt Eberflus said. “A lot of those things – the keys, the reads, the drops – will all be a little bit cleaner for him.”
Carter has a goal of 120 tackles this season. In the final year of his contract, Carter needs a good season to stay in Dallas beyond this season.
The Cowboys have talked about extending Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant. No one has mentioned Carter’s name. He hopes, though, to make himself worthy of a new deal with a great season.
“It’d be great,” Carter said. “I love playing for the Cowboys. It’s an awesome city, and we’ve got a great fan base. It would be a great thing if God blessed me with that.”