(Editor's Note: Throughout the offseason, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2012 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features linebacker Bruce Carter.)
Name: Bruce Carter
Experience: 2 seasons
College: North Carolina
Key stat:Carter made every start at inside linebacker before injuring his elbow against the Redskins in Week 12. He still finished as the team's third leading tackler and led all players with nine tackles for loss.
Contract Status:Signed through 2014.
How He Played In 2012:Along with the question of how Tyron Smith was going to make the switch to left tackle came the questions of who was going to start at inside linebacker next to Sean Lee. To be
honest, the front office wasn't even sure because they went out and committed free agent dollars to sign Dan Connor from the Panthers in the offseason. I really believed that there was going to be a battle for the job, but that wasn't the case at all. Once that Carter was placed in the lineup, he never looked back. He was clearly a better all-around player in camp and throughout the practices. Connor didn't show the same skill level to match Carter.
My questions of Carter were never about his athletic ability, but how quickly would he be able to read blocking schemes and get in on the play. I even remember talking to Sean Lee about it during camp, and he said that once Carter picked up that part of the game that he had a chance to be a rare player because of his athletic ability. There were times where Carter looked late on his read, but that was because Lee was ready so fast. But as the season wore on, you could see what Lee was talking about and there were plays where Carter was beating Lee to the spot. Where Carter has Lee in my view is as that physical point of attack player. Not saying that Lee isn't physical but the violence in which Carter tackles is impressive. When Lee went down, you really saw Carter grow up even more. It became his defense and he accepted the challenge of trying to play to the level of Lee, and he was able to do so.
How Does He Fit: This switch to the 4-3 scheme should be outstanding for Carter because it requires that the linebackers be able to run and hit, so this is right down his alley. He will play the Will linebacker, but you will also so him in some different looks depending on if they are playing over and under fronts. It will be a good thing for DeMarcus Ware to have him on the same side because it will allow him to attack up the field knowing Carter is to his outside.
Rowan Kavner –Before the season began, Carter was in a position battle with Dan Connor. It didn't take long to realize Carter would be the one on the field with a starting spot when the season began. It'd be difficult to argue any player improved more than Carter between the 2011 and 2012 seasons. He always seemed to maneuver his way toward the football and the ball-carrier, and he also demonstrated an ability to cover. Next to Sean Lee, he [embedded_ad]
developed into a consistent, all-around linebacker who could stay on the field in most situations and deliver the occasional crushing hit. Now, Carter will have to showcase his versatility in a switch to the 4-3 and, along with Lee, he needs to find a way to stay healthy for 16 games.