If Bengals plan on cutting Chris Carter, they'll have to hunt him down

Chris Carter has collected 3.5 sacks this preseason, but will it be enough for him to make the final 53? Gary Landers/AP

CINCINNATI -- It's hard to fathom it actually happening at this point, but the Cincinnati Bengals could still cut outside linebacker Chris Carter this weekend as they get down to their 53-man roster limit by 4 p.m. ET Saturday.

If the Bengals do in fact have plans of cutting the fifth-year veteran, they might want to start putting out an APB right now.

"Don't call me. I'll turn off my ringer," Carter said late Thursday, cracking a smile. "If you're going to cut me, you have to come find me. I'm not picking up the phone because I'm coming into work the next day like I've still got a job."

His mentality is likely shared by several Bengals and countless players across the NFL as the two worst days on the league calendar begin. Careers, futures and lives come down to tough decisions made within the next 48 hours. For some players, a lifelong dream will come to an end. For others, a cross-country move may soon be in order.

This is a potentially life-changing weekend for many families.

"In this business, it's hard to predict what's going to go on," Bengals running back James Wilder Jr. said.

Unlike Carter, Wilder plans to keep his phone on the loudest ring tone possible Friday and Saturday because he's desperate to know whether or not the Bengals believe he has done enough to stay with them.

But back to Carter. Although perhaps deemed a player on the roster bubble when training camp started five weeks ago, the versatile pass-rusher has been viewed in a much different light in recent weeks. He's had a solid preseason, collecting six tackles including 3.5 sacks, the majority of which came in blitz situations from the linebacker position. As was mentioned earlier this week, Carter not only can rush from the stand-up linebacker position, but he also was quick off the ball this preseason playing with his hand on the ground as a hybrid rush end.

From his linebacker position Thursday night at Indianapolis, Carter sent the Bengals into the regular season with a play that perfectly encapsulated his past month.

As Colts quarterback Bryan Bennett dropped back on a first down with about four minutes left in a tie game, Carter rushed off the left edge, plowing past H-back Sean McGrath and wrapping up Bennett as the ball flew out. When it did, Bengals rookie defensive tackle Marcus Hardison sprang into action.

"Wherever I was I just kind of dove, did a little broad jump," Hardison said. "I didn't want to go to overtime. That kind of motivated me. That gave me a few more inches."

Hardison's fumble recovery led to a five-play Bengals drive that resulted in Tom Obarski's 28-yard field goal that served as the game-winner. That series began when Wilder picked up 19 yards to put the Bengals in the red zone.

One of the many heroes of the 9-6 win, Carter now must wait to learn if his actions were enough.

"When it's time to go out there and get in the game, you can't think, 'Man, this is my last shot. Am I going to make the team after the roster cuts?'" Carter said. "The biggest thing I've learned over these past few years is to block all the stress out and just go out there and play."

The stress-free Carter hopes he has at least 16 more games to play in stripes this season.