IRVING, Texas – The position stays the same, but the role is going to change for Bruce Carter in New Jersey this weekend.
Carter is going to stay at his usual position of weakside linebacker after some discussion to move him inside while Sean Lee recovers from injury. The job of middle linebacker will fall to others against the Giants, but Carter will take over playcalling duties on Sunday.
"Obviously, when you've got the headset on, guys are looking at you like you're the quarterback on offense," Carter said. "Everybody's looking at you to get the playcall, set up the linemen, point out the right calls. It keeps me up on my P's and Q's, and I think it will help me out tremendously."
This isn't exactly new territory for Carter, as he had to help offset Lee's absence last season. The consensus is that the then-second year linebacker played at his best while Lee recovered from his toe injury.
"He played really good football for us last year when Sean went out, and probably played his best football," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "So we're looking forward to seeing him play this week and as it goes." [embedded_ad]
With Carter remaining outside, and with backup middle linebacker Justin Durant also out injured, the Cowboys faced the prospect of quite a linebacker shuffle. Ernie Sims looks like the likely starter in the middle, though rookie DeVonte Holloman is pushing for consideration.
"They're trying to work out between Holloman and Ernie as far as playing Mike and where Sean played in the nickel. We'll see how the week goes," Carter said.
Sims is an eight-year NFL veteran, but he has worked primarily as an outside linebacker in Dallas. Holloman is not only a rookie, but he's working back from a month-long absence with a neck injury. With that in mind, Carter said it's on all three of the Sam, Mike and Will – that is, strongside, middle and weakside linebackers – to stay in communication.
"All three of us – as far as Sam, Mike and Will – everybody has to be on one chord," he said. "Everybody has to know what he's doing. I might see something he doesn't and call it out, or vice versa."
He added: "It's really not as big a problem as it was last year, because I'm still playing my same role. But with Sean out, obviously he's a tremendous leader and he's very vocal. I think we've all just got to go out there and talk. If everybody's on the same page and reading the same things, we'll be fine."
And of course, Lee might be gone, but he's certainly not forgotten. Carter said the leader's presence still looms large, despite the hamstring injury.
"Sean, like I said before, he's still studying as if he's going to play. He's always asking questions – how'd we do that, or if we have a question about something," Carter said. "So he's still in that leadership role as far as our linebacker group, and guys are still looking up to him to know answers for us."