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Cowboys' Carter not quite ready for big role on defense

The Dallas Cowboys' defense took a major hit when linebacker Sean Lee went down with a bad wrist injury this past Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

With Lee a long shot to play this weekend against the Seattle Seahawks, it would seem the Cowboys have a natural replacement in Bruce Carter, their athletic second-round draft pick from the University of North Carolina.

Not so fast, however, says coach Jason Garrett. While Carter remains a tantalizing talent, Garrett said he's not quite ready to assume a larger role on defense.

"I think he has a long way to go," Garrett told The Dallas Morning News. "He just hasn't played enough football in this scheme, yet. I thought he did a really good job in the game as a (special) teams player, and he needs to get more and more comfortable playing on the field in this defense. He's a smart guy. He does pick it up well in the meeting room. He's watching tape. He just needs to have snaps at it and reps at it. Really, that's the case for any player, particularly a young player who has missed as much time as he has.

"He's picking it up well, he's been productive in practice. We're hopeful that he can take the next step and get into the game and be productive as well."

Garrett told the Morning News that Carter, who played special teams against the Eagles, has participated in only three padded-practices since his return from a nasty knee injury he sustained at the end of his senior season at UNC. Carter tore his left ACL during a Nov. 20 game against N.C. State and underwent reconstructive surgery Dec. 4. The injury caused Carter to miss all the pre-draft workouts.

Carter has one special teams tackle this season and did not get any snaps on defense this past Sunday following Lee's injury. Garrett said he hopes to give him some snaps eventually.

"You just want him to be able to be successful in the situation that he's going into," Garrett said. "We felt like going into the game, for a guy who has missed as much time as he has, and really only had two padded-practices prior to playing in the game, we just felt like it was best to keep him in a special teams role unless we really, really needed him to go out and play defense."

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