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Kevin Hogan expects Alex Carter to return from injury better than before

INDIANAPOLIS -- Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan was training for the NFL combine earlier this month when he had an unexpected visitor show up in Westlake Village, California.

Hogan has been friends with Detroit Lions cornerback Alex Carter for years. The two are very close, sharing more than football in common. But Carter hasn’t played football for a year, spending last season on injured reserve in Detroit. So Hogan’s old friend picked up some work training with Hogan.

What Hogan saw was a cornerback motivated by last season’s football absence.

“Oh, he’s going to be better than the last time you guys saw him,” Hogan said at the combine. “He’s been working all offseason. He’s stronger. He’s been taking care of his body. He has a fire lit under him from sitting out that time.”

Carter was taken in the third round of last year’s draft by Detroit. An ankle injury early in training camp knocked him out of the preseason and led the Lions to place him on the injured reserve/designated to return list. Except he didn’t return. The Lions let the window to activate him pass, ending his season.

With Rashean Mathis retired and a bunch of question marks opposite emerging star Darius Slay, Carter might have a chance to slide into the starting lineup and make up for his lost year. But he’s a mystery to the Lions because they have barely seen him play.

In addition to the season, Carter also missed the majority of last season’s spring workouts because he was finishing up classes at Stanford. This season he won’t have the same problem and he’ll be able to concentrate on earning a starting role.

And if the way he worked out Hogan is an indication, there's a chance for it to happen.

“He’s a very intelligent player. Besides the fact that he’s extremely gifted physically and athletically, he’s smart,” Hogan said. “He’ll try and bait you into things knowing what he’s doing the whole time. He’s a good student of the game. He’ll be studying receiver techniques, where they are lining up, their splits and kind of get hints of what they’re going to do from there.

“He’s a very close friend of mine. Actually spent time with him a few weeks back. He was out there doing some training near me so we spent some time together. I know he’s going to do really well.”