Agent: DE Carter hopeful of return

INDIANAPOLIS -- The agent for free-agent defensive end Andre Carter said Carter plans to play again in 2012, has interest in returning to the Patriots, and is ahead of schedule in his rehab after left quad surgery.

"This is what Andre wanted when [we] sat down and talked -- he wanted to go to a team that was a contender [and] where he would play in a system where he had a chance to go to the Pro Bowl, so everything was perfect until the injury," agent Carl Poston said Friday at the NFL combine. "We would like to think they'd be interested in keeping him on a long-term basis, but it takes two to dance."

Poston said he's made initial contact with the Patriots to see what the team's plans are with Carter.

"I would have been surprised if they said they weren't interested. They said they were interested, but it's a little early [to talk about a contract]," he relayed.

Carter, who was one of the team's best free-agent signings last year, sustained the season-ending quad injury Dec. 18 in Denver.

"He's in good shape, ahead on his rehab," Poston said. "It's not the kind of injury like a lower back or knee, where he's not going to be able to come back 100 percent. In fact, he might be even be stronger."