The Dallas Cowboys parted ways with veteran inside linebackers Bradie James and Keith Brooking this offseason. Replacing James, a starter for the last seven seasons and a team captain from 2007 through 2011, is 2011 second-round draft pick Bruce Carter, who had five tackles in his first NFL start on Wednesday night.
Carter might lack experience, but he makes up for that with his speed and athleticism. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones likes that trade off thus far, referring to Carter as possibly the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Carter earned that accolade even though he's one year removed from tearing his anterior cruciate ligament, an injury that ended his college career.
"We are faster," Jones said during his Friday radio show on KRLD-FM, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "There's no question that when you look at No. 54 out there, who is the fastest inside linebacker in the NFL -- maybe the fastest linebacker, period -- he has speed and is a big difference out there. Him and Sean Lee are, I think, going to be one of our strengths."
Lee, who had a team-high 102 tackles and tied for the team lead in interceptions last season with four, had a team-high 12 tackles and forced a fumble in the Cowboys' 24-17 win Wednesday over the New York Giants. Though they're not yet at the same level as the San Francisco 49ers' All-Pro inside linebacker duo of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, they could emerge as threats to the throne this season.Follow Brian McIntyre on Twitter @brian_mcintyre.