His torn ACL from last November fully recovered, rookie linebacker Bruce Carter made his NFL debut against the Eagles in Week 8, saying at the time he expected mostly special teams work this year, but was hoping to take on a nickel role by the end of the year.
Half the season has gone by since then, the second-round pick having been proven correct as far as the special teams aspect of his predication. Now that the Eagles have come back around for the second game of the season series, and it's the end of the year, this could be a good week for Carter to see some playing time on defense.
"That's what I'm hoping for," Carter said. "It'll really show what I can really do as far as covering athletically skilled guys, especially a situation like this with (LeSean) McCoy and (Michael) Vick, that'll help me just use the tools I have."
Given the Eagles' great team speed on offense, and how helpless veteran linebackers Bradie James and Keith Brooking were in coverage after Sean Lee was injured in the 34-7 blowout, playing Carter on passing downs may be a necessity this time.
If harnessed, Carter's athleticism could be a real asset as the Cowboys attempt to limit tight end Brent Celek to less than 94 yards receiving while keeping Vick and McCoy from gashing the defense in the open field.
Carter's initial hurdle to get on the field, his overall grasp of the defense, has come a long way in the last two months, he said. With Barry Church on the injured reserve and Danny McCray battling a knee injury of his own, Carter believes he's ready to take on the hybrid role thad had been filled by those safeties.
He's worked on that assigment in practice and got some playing time in the second half against Tampa Bay.
"A little bit of that," Carter said. "It hasn't really been that bad, it's just guarding tight ends and backs. It's just kind of the same thing as playing linebacker . . . the more experience you get, the comfortable you are playing out there, so I think that's the key."