IRVING, Texas - Bruce Carter is on the same path as Sean Lee, preparing to start at inside linebacker one season after entering the NFL.
Like Lee, Carter fought back from a torn ACL to get in football shape and compete for a starting job. Coach Jason Garrett said Carter's work ethic following the knee injury speaks to the heart of the linebacker.
"He's just going to get better and better and better," Garrett said. "I think he's got a really good linebacker corps to work with, playing next to Sean Lee, playing inside DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. I think he understands the standard those guys have of playing, practicing and preparing the right way. I think he's benefitted from all that."
Carter needs to play more football before being discussed among that group of veterans. But he's followed the path the Cowboys hoped and expected of him, transitioning from special teams contributor to starting linebacker in just one season.
"We drafted him in the second round for a reason," Garrett said. "We felt he has a chance to be a starting inside linebacker for us, a really good cover guy at the inside linebacker position, also be a special teams contributor, and he's done all of that."
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said Carter can be "special," both blitzing and in coverage. Wednesday will be Carter's first complete test to show what he's learned from Lee and the linebackers and how far he's come since getting drafted last year.
"It's good to get him out there," Ryan said. "He came a long way from that injury he had. He's worked really hard with [linebackers coach] Matt Eberflus and Sean Lee, his two coaches, so he'll be ready to go."