Position battle: Bruce Carter catches owner's eye

OXNARD, Calif. -- Jerry Jones, just shooting the bull with a handful of reporters, made a point to mention the progress that he’s seen out of second-year inside linebacker Bruce Carter.

That’s a pretty good sign for a guy in a battle for a starting job.

The Cowboys need both Carter and Dan Connor, who signed a two-year, $6.5 million deal to come to Dallas this offseason, to contribute. They're competing to see who gets the majority of the snaps next to Sean Lee.

If it’s close, expect the Cowboys to give the edge to Carter based on potential. After all, they considered him a first-round talent who slipped to them in the second round last year because of a knee injury suffered his senior year in college.

“I’m just out here to prove to everybody what I can do and that they didn’t make a mistake picking me as early as they did,” Carter said.

The Cowboys have always been enamored with Carter’s speed and athleticism. They just weren’t comfortable giving him defensive snaps as a rookie who didn’t practice until the seventh week of the season.

They’re starting to see more and more glimpses that Carter is ready for a significant role.

“He’s getting better every day -- more comfortable with the defense, more comfortable with the reads,” Lee said. “He’s learning to play faster and faster. That’s a big thing because he’s a good athlete. Once he gets his reads and gets more experience, I think he’ll continue to improve.”

The owner is counting on it.