Advertisement
  1. Bucs

Bruce Carter expects to step into middle of things for Bucs

Bruce Carter, 27, led all NFL linebackers with five interceptions last season, and he started 32 games in his four seasons with the Cowboys. [Getty Images]
Bruce Carter, 27, led all NFL linebackers with five interceptions last season, and he started 32 games in his four seasons with the Cowboys. [Getty Images]
Published Apr. 22, 2015

TAMPA — Middle linebacker is a crucial position in Lovie Smith's defense, calling defensive signals, covering plenty of ground in pass coverage and having a natural leadership role in the middle of the field.

Bruce Carter is ready for that challenge.

"It's got to be somebody who can lead on and off the field, somewhat of a captain," said Carter, speaking to local media Monday for the first time since he signed with the Bucs last month. "Guys have to look up to him, not only vocally but in your play, how you carry yourself. That's something I'm going to work on, and hopefully I can do a great job at it."

Carter, 27, led all NFL linebackers with five interceptions last season, and he started 32 games in his four seasons with the Cowboys, playing in a scheme very similar to what he'll have in Tampa Bay. Smith allowed Mason Foster, a four-year starter, to leave in free agency, targeting Carter as his successor based on his athleticism and familiarity with his defense.

"We want athletes, and it helps when you've been in the system, where you know what we're expecting from our linebackers," Smith said. "That's the case with Bruce. When he came in, we liked him. (Linebackers coach) Hardy Nickerson, (defensive coordinator) Leslie Frazier, all of us, liked his play. He's a productive guy, had splash plays with the Cowboys. We just think he's what we're looking for."

Carter has made defensive calls before, both in college at North Carolina and with the Cowboys. He said he left Dallas on good terms, as much because of financial restrictions as any desire not to bring him back.

"I know they really wanted me to come back, but they had other issues they had to deal with … a lot of cap issues," Carter said. "It worked out well for me. I'm not mad at them, I don't think they're mad at me, so it's all good."

The Bucs have signed three players from the Cowboys defense in Carter, tackle Henry Melton and nickelback Sterling Moore, with the hopes that their experience in the playoffs last season can help get the Bucs in contention for postseason play.

Carter, 6 feet 2 and 240 pounds, played most recently as an outside linebacker, but he said he's comfortable with a new role in the middle, and confident in his ability to drop back and cover the middle of the field in pass coverage as well.

"I think that will be quite easy for me — it's obviously something I'm going to have to work at because it's different," Carter said. "Me using my athleticism, I don't think that will be an issue. I wouldn't say I'm ideally your traditional middle linebacker, but I'm more athletic, I can move and cover guys. I think it will be good."