Cowboys LB Bruce Carter taking steps in right direction
JUN 20, 2014 11:47a ET
IRVING, Texas -- A defense already lacking star power needs one of its most athletic players to become a difference-maker.
Dallas Cowboys weakside linebacker Bruce Carter has the potential. It was on display during Wednesday's minicamp. The 2011 second-round pick intercepted a Brandon Weeden pass near the goal line during 7-on-7 drills.
Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli wasn't overly excited about the turnover. He expects those types of plays from Carter.
"Now, do it again," Marinelli shouted after the pick.
"It's him getting his eyes on the quarterback and doing a great job of breaking on the ball," linebackers coach Matt Eberflus said. "He's doing what we're asking him to do. He knows what he has to do. He's trying to make a step every day to work to get better."
Carter isn't satisfied with how he played in his first year as an outside linebacker. After showing so much promise playing on the inside in Rob Ryan's 3-4 scheme, Carter never seemed confident in the Tampa-2. Despite starting 13 games, he was benched on multiple occasions.
But Eberflus says Carter is putting in extra work and "taking steps in the right direction."
"I definitely have a lot to prove to everybody, especially myself," Carter said earlier this month. "I want to come out here and just get this thing moving in the right direction."
While Carter recorded a career-high 96 tackles last year, the Cowboys are looking for more. With Sean Lee likely lost for the season, Carter has to be the team's leading tackler.
In the Cowboys' defensive scheme, Carter will be protected by the three-technique tackle up front, meaning he should be free to roam and make plays. Marinelli knows about playmakers at that position. It's the spot Derrick Brooks played in Tampa Bay and Lance Briggs played in Chicago. Those two combined to make 18 Pro Bowls.
Entering the final year of his rookie contract, there's no better time for Carter to have a breakout season.
"I just want to be the best player I can be," Carter said. "I have a lot of potential to be great. I don't want to leave anything in the tank. I want to sell out and give my all."