Cowboys hopeful Bruce Carter is ready

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Cowboys selected Bruce Carter in the second round of last year’s draft despite knowing the inside linebacker would need something of a redshirt year in 2011 because of a serious knee injury.

With the possible departures of Bradie James and Keith Brooking in free agency, the Cowboys would appear to need Carter to jump up into the starting spot next to Sean Lee in 2012.

Coach Jason Garrett said nobody is “penciled in as a starter,” while admitting guys like Tony Romo and DeMarcus Ware are but liked Carter’s progress. Carter had one defensive tackle and a pass deflection in limited snaps and also tied for seventh in special teams tackles with eight in 10 games.

"The game plan for Carter is exactly what we thought it would be,” Garrett said. “He had ACL surgery late in the year last year, so we knew what we were getting at that point with him. It was going to be a long road back for him. We anticipated that on draft day. He’d probably start the season on [the physically unable to perform list] and we’ll see where he goes from there. We were optimistic he could be a special teams contributor by the end of the year, which is exactly what he was. So, he misses training camp and he doesn’t practice for the team until the middle of the season and he comes in and contributes on teams. We still like him a lot. He came back from the injury as well as can be expected. Typically, coming back from those injuries is a year-and-a-half to two years. Ask anybody who has had an ACL surgery and they say, ‘I didn’t feel quite right in Year One. I felt a lot better in Year Two.’ He’s coming up on Year Two. We’re excited about getting him in the offseason program, getting him with Mike Woicik and making sure he is physically ready and stable and ready to roll. We’re to see how he progress into OTAs and training camp.”