Cowboys won't hand over job to Carter

IRVING, Texas -- When the Dallas Cowboys decided to switch from the 3-4 scheme to Monte Kiffin's 4-3, they believed they had a perfect weak-side linebacker in Bruce Carter.

So far Carter's transition has been slower than anticipated and has resulted in veteran Ernie Sims seeing more playing time. Carter was benched after the 30-21 loss to the San Diego Chargers in which he gave up two touchdowns to running back Danny Woodhead.

"One of the things that we really believe in as a coaching staff is playing the guys we think deserve to play," coach Jason Garrett said. "Ernie Sims has come in here and said, 'Somehow, someway, I'm going to be on your football team and I'm going to be a factor on your football team, whether I'm playing special teams, I'm playing in the base, I'm playing in the nickel.' Watch him practice every day, watch the demeanor he plays with on Sunday, how productive he is. He deserves an opportunity. We've had a number of guys on our team be in similar situations. The worst mistake you can make as an organization is say, 'We drafted this guy here. He needs to be on our team. He needs to play,' all those kinds of things.

"You certainly want to give players a chance to develop, and we have to make sure we do that. But it's also a competitive situation, and no one's entitled to any job. Bruce has done some good things for us. He really has. I think he's getting better in this scheme. I think he's understanding it more and more. I think he's playing faster and faster, but Ernie Sims deserves an opportunity to play, and he's going to be a part of what we're doing on defense, and certainly in the kicking game as well."

Carter is third on the team with 54 tackles to go with two sacks. Sims has 20 tackles and has forced a fumble. Last week against Detroit, Carter played in 45 snaps and Sims, who can also play strong-side linebacker, played in 35. In the wins against the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins, Carter saw the majority of playing time.

"When you have other alternatives of guys you think can do a really good job for your football team, you want to make sure you give those guys a chance," Garrett said. "But we really like Bruce Carter. We thinks he's a damn good player, and he goes about it the right way and he's learning the system and playing faster and faster and being more productive. We'll keep giving him chances as well. We want to play the best guy and the guys who are worthy of playing, and that's where Ernie comes in, and Bruce will certainly have a big role in this game as well."