IRVING, Texas -- Why did Bruce Carter lose his starting job at linebacker? He’s apparently the wrong guy to ask.
Carter said the coaches gave him a reason, but he couldn’t remember exactly what it was.
“To be honest, I really don’t even know,” Carter said Monday, admitting that he was frustrated by his diminished role. “It really wasn’t legit. It is what it is.”
Carter’s playing time originally got cut during a poor performance in the Week 4 loss to the San Diego Chargers, when he was burned twice by running back Danny Woodhead for touchdown catches. He sat almost the entire fourth quarter in that game and played only 41 of 81 snaps the following week.
However, Carter returned to a full-time role the next two games, only to have his playing time reduced again the past two weeks. He hardly played in the first half in Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Vikings, when replacement Ernie Sims struggled. Carter performed well enough in the second half to earn coach Jason Garrett’s praise, although it isn’t clear if he earned the starting job again in the process.
“I think we saw a lot of what Bruce Carter is able to do in that game,” Garrett said. “He flew around a little bit more and was very productive, made tackles in space, made two key third-down stops for us and just seemed to be more active and played more decisively and with more confidence.”
Carter seemed to be a blossoming star before suffering a season-ending elbow injury last season. The Cowboys thought he’d benefit greatly from the switch to the 4-3 scheme, with his athleticism seemingly a great fit for the Will linebacker spot manned by Derrick Brooks during Monte Kiffin’s Tampa Bay days.
But Carter clearly regressed during the first half of the season. He acknowledges playing too hesitantly, saying he got caught up in overanalyzing things instead of just relying on his instincts. And Carter believes the coaches lost confidence in him.
“I’ve never doubted myself,” Carter said. “I know what type of player I am. I can play at this level and be productive at it. I showed last game. I’ve never doubted myself.
“I’m just trying to get whatever the coaches are looking for from me to get back on the field.”