Young Guns: Bruce Carter

Since 2010, the Dallas Cowboys have done a better job of finding talent. As a core of Tony Romo, Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware, Miles Austin, Jason Hatcher, Anthony Spencer and Doug Free inch closer to the end of their careers, the Cowboys need a group of young players heading into their primes to take ownership of the team. Cowboys reporters Calvin Watkins and Todd Archer analyze those players from the class of 2010 on.

The Cowboys had high expectations for weakside linebacker Bruce Carter. He was going to excel in the new 4-3 scheme of defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. The Cowboys wanted to use Carter's speed and athletic ability to make plays on the ball.

But Carter struggled badly. He was benched in the second half of the San Diego loss, lost his starting job to veteran Ernie Sims and has raised questions about his future.

Carter did finish the season third on the team with 96 tackles and did record five tackles for loss, but his stock is clearly down at Valley Ranch. If there was one thing the Cowboys thought they had in 2013, it was two young linebackers in Sean Lee and Carter to make plays.

Carter didn't perform well in pass coverage and voiced his displeasure at getting benched. He didn't make a scene but just wanted an explanation as to what was going on with his status on the field.

The Cowboys didn't need to explain what the problems was. It was evident. Carter just didn't make the plays necessary to stay on the field. He enters a contract year needing to bounce back in order for the Cowboys to think he has a future with the team.

Of course, the Cowboys can tender him after 2014, but that would be considered a disappointment considering how much they thought the second-round pick from North Carolina was supposed to ascend as one of their better young players.

Carter's future is in doubt. He's not a bust, because the Cowboys saw how well he played toward the end of the 2012 season with Lee out due to an injury.

The skill set the Cowboys have seen in Carter is there, he just needs to be consistent.