Last season for the Dallas Cowboys, two young Linebackers – Bruce Carter and Sean Lee — emerged as the future of the position.
While Lee is the more known commodity — a soon-to-be 27-year-old, four-year veteran who is regarded as one of the best Linebackers in all of football — his running mate is the relative unknown.
Carter is a 25-year-old, 6-foot-2, 240 pound North Carolina Tar Heel product. A second round pick by the Cowboys in the 2011 NFL Draft, he appeared in just 10 games his rookie season, still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in his final year at North Carolina.
Last year though, Carter started to show flashes. Filling in at the other inside linebacker spot (vacated by Houston Texan Free Agent pickup Bradie James) opposite Lee in then-defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s 3-4 defense – Carter had 70 total tackles in 11 games, before breaking a bone in his elbow in the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day loss against the Washington Redskins.
Both Lee and Carter are coming off season-ending injuries (Lee broke his toe in a victory at the Carolina Panthers in Week 7), but both are now fully healthy and look for Carter to emerge this upcoming season as a top linebacker in the NFL, and have a breakout season along the way.
In new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s Tampa 2 scheme, Carter will play the same position — the “Will” (weakside) Linebacker position – that was played by future Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks when Kiffin was the defensive coordinator on the Super Bowl 37 champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003.
Both Carter and Brooks have similar size (Brooks at 6-feet, 235 pounds, just two inches and five pounds less than Carter), and Carter is very similar to Brooks speed-wise (Brooks ran a 4.5 40-yard dash and Carter ran a 4.57). Obviously, parlaying his ability into a Hall of Fame career like Brooks’ is a little bit of a stretch at this point, but Carter is studying tape of Brooks to further understand his role and what he needs to do in order to be effective in Kiffin’s scheme the same way Brooks was.
There is no better learning tool for a young player than studying tape of one of the best to ever do it, and Carter wants to make himself a household name around the league.
Expect that to happen in 2013.