Bruce Carter (American football)

Bruce Carter
No. 54New York Jets
Position: Linebacker
Personal information
Date of birth: (1988-02-19) February 19, 1988
Place of birth: Havelock, North Carolina
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight: 240 lb (109 kg)
Career information
High school: Havelock (NC)
College: North Carolina
NFL Draft: 2011 / Round: 2 / Pick: 40
Career history
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
  • 2005 High School All-American (SuperPrep)
  • 2× Second-team All-ACC (2009, 2010)
Career NFL statistics as of 2015
Total tackles: 289
Quarterback sacks: 5.0
Interceptions: 5
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

Bruce Carter (born February 19, 1988) is an American football linebacker for the New York Jets of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He played college football at the University of North Carolina.

Early years

Carter attended Havelock High School in Havelock, North Carolina. He played quarterback, safety and running back. As a senior he rushed for 1,063 yards with 15 touchdowns as a running back and threw for 585 yards and five touchdowns as a quarterback.

Considered a three-star recruit by, Carter was listed as the No. 33 safety prospect in the nation.[1]

College career

Freshman season

Carter was converted to linebacker in college. In the Tar Heels' season opener, against James Madison, Carter got his first blocked punt. The football was recovered in the end zone by a fellow Tar Heel for a touchdown. Carter started his first game as a Tar Heel in the game against East Carolina, he garnered four tackles during the game. As a freshman in 2007 Carter started seven of 12 games, recording 25 tackles.

Sophomore season

As a sophomore in 2008 Carter started all 13 games at outside linebacker. In the game against Rutgers, Carter intercepted a pass and returned it 66 yards for a touchdown, this was the first touchdown of his career. In the Tar Heels' game against Miami, Carter blocked one punt. The blocked punt proved to be crucial, as the Tar Heels drove 56 yards down the field and scored after the punt was blocked. One of Bruce Carter's best games of his sophomore season was the game against Connecticut. The blocking of three punts in one game earned Carter the ACC record for most punts blocked in a single game. In that game he recorded three blocked punts, all of which occurred during the second quarter of the game. In the Tar Heels' loss to the Virginia Cavaliers, Carter blocked a Cavalier field goal attempt. He finished the season with 68 tackles, five sacks, an interception, which was returned for a touchdown, and a nation leading five blocked kicks.

Junior season

Carter started all 13 games as an outside linebacker. Carter tipped a punt in the Tar Heel's game against the Citadel. In the Tar Heels' game against Georgia Southern, Carter intercepted a pass and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown, this was Carter's second career touchdown. As a junior in 2009, Carter has 48 tackles, a sack, and an interception. Carter earned a career high 13 tackles in the game against NC State. Carter was voted to Second-Team All-ACC. This was Carter's only season where he did not record a blocked punt.[2]

Senior season

Carter returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown in the third game of the season against Rutgers. In that game Carter also recorded a blocked punt and seven tackles. Carter's senior season was cut short due to a knee injury, which dropped his draft stock. He sustained the injury during the game against NC State. He would miss the last two games of the season against Duke and the 2010 Music City Bowl, which was played against Tennessee Volunteers. Carter was a finalist for the 2010 Butkus Award, but lost to Von Miller of Texas A&M. He finished his final season as a Tar Heel with 57 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. Carter was again voted to Second-Team All-ACC.

Professional career

Dallas Cowboys

2011 season

He was considered one of the top linebacker prospects for the 2011 NFL Draft.[3][4] Carter was projected as a first round draft pick before sustaining an ACL injury in his left knee during his senior season. Just as they did with Sean Lee who had a similar situation when he was drafted, the Dallas Cowboys selected him in the second round (40th overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft.[5]

He spent his rookie season recovering from the injury. On October 29, 2011, he was activated from the non-football injury list to the Cowboys active roster, taking the spot of the waived Tashard Choice. His participation was mostly limited to special teams, playing only a total of 41 defensive snaps.

2012 season

Entering the 2012 season the team decided not to resign Keith Brooking and Bradie James, because they considered Carter to be ready to start at inside linebacker next to Sean Lee, after playing outside linebacker for most of his college career.[6][7]

The Cowboys also signed Dan Connor as a free agent to compete with Carter and to protect themselves in case he couldn't earn a starting role. That potential competition never materialized, because Carter would end up having a break out year, even expanding his role after Lee was placed on injured reserve in October. He finished second on the team with 70 tackles, despite being placed on injured reserve for the final five games, after dislocating his left elbow on Thanksgiving Day.[8]

2013 season

In 2013, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin was hired to change the defense to a 4-3 alignment, so he was switched to weakside linebacker, which was the same role in the Tampa 2 defense made famous by hall of famer Derrick Brooks. Although he was seen as a natural fit and there were high expectations placed on him, he struggled in preseason, where he started being platooned with Ernie Sims. These difficulties carried on into the regular season and after a poor performance against the San Diego Chargers, he was benched for the first time at any level. After two games he regained his starter role over Sims and finished with 96 tackles (third on the team) and 2 sacks. In a historic down year for the Cowboys defense, his performance was seen as a disappointment.

2014 season

In 2014, he was moved to strongside linebacker, so he could line behind the three-technique right defensive tackle position and be free to make plays. He suffered a right quadricep injury against the New Orleans Saints and was lost for three games. Although his playing time was reduced in November, losing his starting role after the game against the Arizona Cardinals, he would finish strong while concentrating on the nickel defense and special teams, finishing with 68 tackles, 5 interceptions (led the team), 8 passes defensed and a blocked punt.[9]

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2015 season

On March 11, 2015, he signed a four year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.[10][11] Although he was projected to start at middle linebacker, he was moved to sam linebacker, after rookie Kwon Alexander outperformed him in training camp. He was used mostly as a backup (only 3 starts), finishing with 47 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 passes defensed. On March 8, 2016, he was waived in a salary cap move.[12]

New York Jets

2016 season

Carter signed a one-year contract with the New York Jets on April 2, 2016.[13]


  1. "Safeties 2006",, January 30, 2006
  2. stats
  3. "NFL Draft - 2011 OLB Draft Prospects",, retrieved November 24, 2009
  4. "Bruce Carter Profile",, retrieved November 24, 2009
  5. "All Cowboys draft picks now under contract". 2011-07-29. Retrieved 2012-09-17.
  6. Archer, Todd. "Cowboys confident Bruce Carter can get it done - Dallas Cowboys Blog - ESPN Dallas". Retrieved 2012-09-17.
  7. Orsborn, Tom (2012-09-08). "Carter-Lee duo provides Cowboys' inside scoop at linebacker - San Antonio Express-News". Retrieved 2012-09-17.
  8. "Cowboys shelve Bruce Carter". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  9. "Bruce Carter flourishing in new role". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  10. Hartstein, Larry. "Bucs sign LB Bruce Carter to four-year deal". CBSSports. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  11. Smith, Scott (March 11, 2015). "Bucs Land Carter to Strengthen LB Corps". Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  12. "Deposed LB Bruce Carter dumped by Bucs 1 year into four-year deal". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  13. Patra, Kevin (April 2, 2016). "Jets agree to 1-year deal with Ex-Bucs LB Bruce Carter". Retrieved April 2, 2016.

External links

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