IRVING, Texas – It wasn't long ago that Bruce Carter was in a competition to start on defense.
Carter and Dan Connor both fought for the starting spot last season, which Carter snagged quickly in the preseason. Things are different now for Carter, who's expected to deliver consistently as a starting linebacker this season.
He's already receiving praise from his teammates, including those who haven't even seen him in pads yet. When asked which linebacker stuck out most in terms of athleticism and quickness, Justin Durant had one answer.
"Probably Bruce," Durant said. "Bruce probably for everything you're about to ask, if it comes down to jump the highest or the strongest, all that stuff. He's a crazy athlete."
Durant described the Cowboys' linebacker corps as top-notch and rivaling any group he's been around in the NFL, and he's seen some quality linebackers in his time, including Mike Peterson and Daryl Smith in Jacksonville and Stephen Tulloch in Detroit.
"It's crazy to see the things that they can do," Durant said. "I've seen some athletic guys, I've played with some great linebackers, and I definitely will say that the guys here are up in that level. They probably have the potential to be even better than some of the guys that I've played with. It's good to be a part of, and I'm just trying to contribute as much as I can."
Durant could very well be on the field starting next to Carter and Sean Lee to begin the season. Lee saw first-hand the kind of player Carter became after Lee was out for the second half of the season.
"He became the guy out there," Lee said. "He was playing well early in the year, but he found a way to play even better. Bruce, we have a ton of expectations for him. I think he can be one of the best linebackers in the league as he continues to improve. For him to step up like that, that was a big deal in why our defense continued to play well."