When the Cowboys drafted Bruce Carter during the 2011 draft, they were rolling the dice that he would return to form after tearing an ACL his senior season at North Carolina. Carter would have been a surefire first round pick without the injury, possibly in the top half of the first round. Carter didn’t see much playing time last season, but he earned a starting spot alongside Sean Lee in 2012. It appears that knee is fully healed.
In case you missed Sunday Night Football this week, you missed Cris Collinsworth raving about Carter throughout the game, and rightfully so. Carter was very impressive.
One such play was when Carter stoned Jacquizz Rodgers in the hole. Here’s Carter circled pre-snap. The Falcons are going to run to the left side:
At the snap, you’ll see C Todd McClure get a nice seal block on the NT. This opens up a hole for Rodgers, except Carter reads the blocking scheme and is going to loop around to the opening:
Carter fills the hole extremely quickly, faster even than Ernie Sims, who is closer to the play:
He lays a big smack on Rodgers:
And drives him backward:
Here’s another nice play by the Cowboys’ defense. This one is actually made by Jason Hatcher, but it requires Carter to clean up. Carter is circled. Falcons left tackle Sam Baker is going to pull to his left and block Anthony Spencer, while Tony Gonzalez is going to block down on Hatcher:
Hatcher beats Gonzalez’s block, which forces the FB to block Hatcher instead of seeking out Carter. Hatcher has now occupied two blockers:
RB Michael Turner, seeing the inside plugged up, decides to try his luck on the outside. Again, Carter (circled) is in pursuit:
Turner is able to get around Spencer, but not a fast LB like Carter, who brings him down for the TFL.
This is play Carter should make… and he does… so golf claps all around.
This next one Collinsworth showed at length as well. Gonzalez is going to run a 10 yard post, while RB Jason Snelling is going to run a short circle route. This puts a lot of pressure on Carter’s zone responsibility:
At the snap, Carter follows Gonzalez, and Matt Ryan reads it as Carter dropping deep into coverage:
But Carter almost immediately recognizes Snelling’s circle route, and breaks toward him:
Ryan delivers a completed pass to Snelling, who is decleated by Carter:
Great recognition, and an even better hit.
And finally, we’ll show “the chase.” This is just raw speed by Carter. Julio Jones makes a catch, jukes the crap out of Gerald Sensabaugh, and is off to the races with Carter is pursuit. Jones ran a 4.39 40 at the Combine, just FYI:
Sensabaugh, a gifted athlete in his own right, falls off, but Carter keeps running stride for stride with Jones:
Jones then unexpectedly bobbles the football, which costs him a half step:
And Carter makes the play:
If Jones doesn’t almost fumble the football there, I don’t know if Carter catches him, but the mere fact that he was able to run stride for stride with him is good enough for me.