Maligned cornerback Brandon Carr is back to popping rubber bands and chasing money again.
And that should be good news to the Dallas Cowboys.
Carr is not only playing on the right side of the secondary as he did during his first four years with the Kansas City Chiefs, but he is wearing a rubber band on his right wrist again.
The combination had in him being considered the top cornerback on the market in 2012, resulting in his five-year, $50.1 million contract with the Cowboys.
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“Oooooh, I got two of them!” Carr said with smile about the rubber bands. “Yeah, one is for my hair and the other one is just for ...”
He was then interrupted by a reporter, who erroneously assumed the second rubber band was to pop himself when he made bad plays, similar to former Philadelphia 76ers guard Maurice Cheeks back in the day.
“No, no, no. It’s good things,” Carr explained. “I pop it when I make plays. You have to go back to my old film, man, back to the KC days to see rubber bands. I brought them back out to get the juice going again. I need to put something in it. It’s empty right now. It all goes together, you see.”
Asked how much money those bands carried during his days in Kansas City, Carr responded with “50” as in the $50.1 million contract he signed with the Cowboys.
While Carr got paid, the Cowboys, in terms of making plays, have gone bankrupt during his time in Dallas.
He had 61 pass deflections his first four years in Kansas City compared with 48 the past four in Dallas. He had eight interceptions the first four years in Kansas City, compared with six in four years in Dallas, including none in the past two years combined.
It resulted in his becoming a whipping boy for criticism from fans who thought he was overpaid.
The Cowboys agreed in 2016, forcing him to take a salary cut from $9.1 million annually to $4.25 million in May. He also got a $1 million signing bonus and per game roster bonuses that could add another $250,000 back to the deal.
For Carr and the two other members of the Cowboys’ oft-criticized secondary, including cornerback Morris Claiborne and safety Barry Church, the message is clear.
“Get the ball, get this money,” Carr said. “Keep it simple. Get the ball, make some plays and you’ll see what happens when it’s all said and done.”
Carr believes he will have a chance to get the ball and get that money again because he is going through a full training camp for the first time in two years. He missed time in camp in 2014 because of the death of his mother. Last year, he was out for the bulk of camp because of a fractured hand.
“I’m able to stay in my routine, keep on practicing my little techniques and the intricate details of playing corner,” Carr said. “I get the chance to be around my guys, stay locked in. That’s the biggest thing to be able to focus for an entire camp, knock on wood. You don’t want to be at home watching from television or sitting in a hospital bed. I’ve always been blessed to battle back from those, but hopefully I can stick around for the rest of this camp and we can get some great energy flowing for this season.”
Carr also hopes to benefit from being healthy after playing through an injured shoulder all of last year. It limited his range of motion and his effectiveness.
But he played on without excuses, as he has done his entire career.
Carr has never missed a game in eight years, dating to his rookie year in Kansas City when he was an unknown fifth-round pick out of Grand Valley State.
“You think about his career in Kansas City, I believe he was a fifth-round pick from a smaller school, he went in there and started virtually every game for four years, and he’s done the same thing for us,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s one of those guys who really loves the game. He’s constantly working at the game, practices the right way and is there every Sunday for us. It’s a great example for the rest of our football team.”
His availability for being on the field every Sunday is overlooked by critics who only point to interceptions. But it’s appreciated by his coaches and teammates, because they know he can be counted on to show up.
“I think that is a big comfort for coaches to know they can set up a game plan knowing they can count on certain guys to be in it each and every week,” Carr said. “From that standpoint, that’s a good thing to have that certainty with that certain player. Other than that, I don’t know. You’ve got to have availability and productivity. That goes together for me. That’s what I’m still working on.”
The rubber bands are back. Carr knows he must get the ball if he hopes to cash in and get that money again.