Bruce Carter not an option in middle

IRVING, Texas -- As the Dallas Cowboys seek a replacement for injured MLB Sean Lee, one place they won't look is in Bruce Carter's direction.

"From what I see, I think they're going to keep me at my same position," Carter said. "I guess they're just going to try guys and work them in and out and just see who fits best."

In 2012, when the Cowboys ran a 3-4 scheme and Lee missed 10 games because of toe surgery, Carter took over Lee's spot. Last season, when Lee missed five full games -- and parts of two others -- with hamstring and neck injuries, the Cowboys did not slide Carter from the weakside linebacker spot to the middle.

Lee is expected to miss the entire 2014 season with a torn ACL in his left knee.

The Cowboys believe Carter is best-suited for the weakside position because of his athleticism, but he struggled making the transition from the 3-4 to the 4-3. He posted a career-high 122 tackles but only four were for loss. He did not intercept a pass, force a fumble or recover one from a difference-making position in the scheme.

The Cowboys benched Carter during one game and took him out of the starting lineup in two others.

"I felt I didn't have the best season that I wanted to have, obviously," Carter said. "But I mean, everybody has their ups and downs. I'm just going to go out here and just continue to work, put my head down and keep working."

Carter is in the final year of his contract. The Cowboys were a pick away from drafting former Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier in the first round of the draft, and he would have forced Carter to switch spots. At the rookie minicamp, new defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said he doesn't coach confidence. A player's success is up to the player.

"Go play," Marinelli said. "It's a man's game, man. Play it the right way. That's what I want. We're going to coach it. We'll coach you hard. Be where you're supposed to be. This is what we expect. And then go."

Carter said he has spent more time working at Valley Ranch this offseason than in the past. Being in top shape, however, hasn't been the issue. Being more football-aware is what he needs to improve upon most.

"I just want to be the best player I can be," Carter said. "I have a lot of potential to be great. I don't want to leave anything in the tank. I want to sell out and give my all."