IRVING, Texas – Bruce Carter doesn't understand why he's still off the field for half the game, five weeks after one poor performance.
It all goes back to the Week 4 game against San Diego for Carter, in which he struggled to contain Danny Woodhead. Since then, he's seen his snaps reduced periodically. He was on the field for just 44 percent of the time on defense, taking 31 snaps against the Vikings.
Carter admits that he doesn't really understand the situation, which can be frustrating for the 2011 second-round pick who played an integral role on defense last year.
"I feel like everybody has a bad game every now in then, but to go to this stage… I don't know," Carter said. "I just feel like I've got to make the most of my opportunity."
Ernie Sims started for Carter this week against the Vikings. Sims played eight more snaps at linebacker but finished with three combined tackles to Carter's six.
Carter said he tends to overanalyze too much in the new defense, which can cause him to play slower than he'd like, but he also feels like that part of his game isn't as big a problem now as it was in the beginning of the year. He now feels more relaxed and comfortable with the scheme.
Yet he still was off the field more than half the time against the Vikings. He said coaches gave him a reason for that, but it doesn't sound like that reason has been communicated clearly.
"To be honest, I really don't even know," Carter said. "It really wasn't legit, but I mean, it is what it is."
It's a frustrating situation for Carter, who played the majority of snaps on defense before the San Diego game, which he admits everything began with. He said he's felt like he needs to get the trust back from his coaches since then.
Following the Chargers loss, Sims got the start against the Broncos. Carter only played 49 percent of the defensive snaps in that defensive struggle, but he took the majority of the snaps on defense in Weeks 6 and 7 against the Redskins and Eagles, respectively.
Then came the Lions game and the Vikings game the last two weeks, in which he played roughly half the defensive snaps. [embedded_ad]
Carter said he thought he had a great game Sunday against the Vikings, and he hopes that provided a giant step toward getting more defensive snaps. He said that's obviously up to the coaches, and the head coach seemed to take notice.
"I think we saw a lot of what Bruce Carter is able to do in that game," said head coach Jason Garrett. "He flew around a little bit more and was very productive, made tackles in space, made two key third-down stops for us and just seemed to be more active and played more decisively and with more confidence.
Those comments Garrett made Monday after watching the film reiterated his positive comments about Carter immediately after the game.
"We saw a little of Bruce Carter out there today, which is good," Garrett said after the win. "Flying around, making plays, having an impact on the game. He did a really good job."
Carter's tried to stay encouraged given the circumstances, and he admits getting his snaps cut in half can be a motivating factor. Since that happened, he's tried to do all he can in practice to draw the coaches' attention.
The talented linebacker said he's never questioned his abilities and he knows what he's capable of. He hopes the coaches see the same thing so he can get back on the field full-time.
"I've never doubted myself," Carter said. "I know what type of player I am. I can play at this level and be productive at it."