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Thursday, September 4, 2014
Bruce Carter switches from Will to Sam

By Tim MacMahon

IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys were convinced that Bruce Carter would benefit as much as anybody when they switched to the 4-3 scheme last season.

Carter’s speed and athleticism seemingly made him an ideal fit for the Will linebacker spot, one of the most critical positions in the Tampa 2 scheme. His name was frequently mentioned in the same breath as Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks, the playmaker who set the standard for the position while starring for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

After a disappointing season, Carter has switched positions. He’s now the starter at Sam linebacker with Justin Durant manning the Will.

Why the change? Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli mentioned that Durant has the instincts necessary to play Will well, which could be considered a strong hint for why Carter wasn’t more successful in the role.

Carter won’t have to do nearly as much reading and reacting at the Sam -- a position he’s worked at only the last couple of weeks.

“He’s done a nice job over there,” Marinelli said. “It puts him in a good position on the outside a little more. I think it shows a lot of his strengths when he does come in rush situations. I think he’s a good outside rusher. I think it’s been a real good move so far.”

Carter, who will still play in the nickel package, doesn’t consider the position switch to be a major transition. He’ll be asked to play on the line of scrimmage more and figures he can play “more freely” at the Sam.

“It allows you to rush a lot,” said Carter, who has two career sacks in three seasons. “I know from Will, you do a lot of covering. From the Sam, you’re always doing some sort of blitzing.

“You get a little one-on-one with tackles, tight ends and running backs. It just allows me to show my athleticism and what I can as far as my pass rush skills.”

Carter will still have plenty of chances to contribute, but he's not playing the marquee role the Cowboys envisioned for him.