Bruce Carter ready to quarterback Bucs' defense

TAMPA, Fla. -- Much has been made about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers having a new quarterback in Jameis Winston.

Not much has been said about the team having a new quarterback on defense. That’s middle linebacker Bruce Carter.

"Any good defense, it starts there," coach Lovie Smith said. "He is the quarterback of the defense."

It’s a new role for Carter on a new team. He played outside linebacker for Dallas last year and signed with the Bucs as a free agent. But the defense isn’t completely foreign to Carter. Dallas, with coordinator Rod Marinelli, runs a defense that is very similar to Tampa Bay’s.

"I think it makes it a lot easier, just knowing the scheme overall," Carter said. "For me as an individual, a player learning a new position, especially middle linebacker, it takes some time to get used to it and working at it. (Linebackers) coach Hardy (Nickerson) has been doing a great job of helping me out with my keys and reads."

Mason Foster was the starting middle linebacker last season. But the Bucs weren’t happy with his pass coverage. That’s why they let him walk in free agency and brought in the faster Carter.

In Dallas last season, Carter had five interceptions. Carter will be asked to call the defensive signals and likely will be a three-down player.

"Bruce can handle all that," Smith said. "So we are excited about what we think he is going to bring to the table. I think he had about five interceptions, so he’s a playmaker, too. We need all that."