Steelers LB Chris Carter Enters Third Season Surrounded By Question Marks

For the first three games of the 2012 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers were forced to start linebacker Chris Carter on the right side due to both James Harrison and Jason Worilds not being fully healthy. It was a golden opportunity for the 2011 fifth-round draft pick out of Fresno State, but unfortunately not one that he took good advantage of.

Carter, who received quite a bit of work during training camp last year as starter with Harrison and Worilds on the active PUP list, played 103 snaps in the Steelers first three games, but only managed to register 6 total tackles and never really threatened the opposing quarterback.

Had Carter played well in those three games, he still wasn\’t going to unseat Harrison as the starter, but it would have given the Steelers coaching staff more confidence in the depth of the position moving forward. Instead, once Harrison and Worilds were back to full health, Carter only saw the field on defense for one more play the rest of the season.

Carter reportedly showed up to training camp last year in better shape after having his rookie season interrupted by a nagging hamstring injury, but another hamstring problem midway through the 2012 season, combined with an abdominal injury, forced him to be placed on the Steelers injured reserve list for a second season in a row in the middle of November.

The Steelers cut Harrison loose this past off-season, but addressed the outside linebacker spot in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft when they selected Jarvis Jones out of Georgia. With Worilds expected to fill the vacated shoes of Harrison initially in 2013, it will mean that Carter can\’t afford any down time or poor play in training camp if he wants to maintain his grip on a roster spot.

As Carter heads into his third training camp, he will be expected to know the defense inside and out. With Jones most likely going to start the season as the backup to Worilds on the right side, Carter might be asked to switch sides and that would likely mean that the Steelers are hopeful that he can serve as a backup in 2013 to LaMarr Woodley.

The Steelers expect all of their backup linebackers to contribute heavily on special teams and that is something that Carter has yet to do in his first two seasons thanks to injuries. While I do think that he has a good shot at making the 53 man roster this year out of training camp, he really needs to show a lot of development on the defensive side of the football during the preseason. If he doesn\’t, the Steelers will more than likely wind up drafting another couple of outside linebackers next April as Carter would then be entering the final year of his rookie contract and primed to be released prior to the start of the 2014 season.

Like the rest of you, I will be watching Carter closely during the preseason with hopes that his third season will be a healthy one and productive one on special teams.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I look at it as last season was really his rookie season since the year before there was no training camp. With that being said he was awful last year and needs to show something this year. If he doesnt show much improvement he will be a Monday morning QB.

  • I think the whole Team enters this year with question marks. Carter to me, is only entering his 3rd Season with the lockout, injured reserve ect…Harrison did not break ranks until what 5 years or so in the league? Dave wrote a piece earlier about Hoke’s comments regarding the new CBA and how it limits the depth reps as well. I guess we’ll see…

  • SteelSpine

    The only thing I disagree is the first sentence of your post. Last season was not Carter’s rookie season. The previous year of him in NFL he had every week between games to practice during the week & watch films with the team, & he did get paid for that year: same as did other draft picks that year in NFL who have since outplayed Carter. Marcus Gilbert same draft as Carter (same shortened preseason), Gilbert started as a rookie & noone says Gilbert’s first year didn’t count, & offensive tackle is very difficult to play (especially for a rookie). Cortez Allen same draft as Carter, Cortez last season showed can handle filling in as a starter.

    This article though is right on.

    I think Steelers will keep Carter this year for the exact same reason the coaches had kept Mundy: if coaches think he knows the defense, regardless of whether the player makes an impact.

  • I see your point but Gilbert is Oline and Carter is OLB..a tiny difference in learning curves.

  • SteelSpine

    Ahhh excuses though. Lamarr Woodley as a rookie OLB here (converted from college DE) had 2 sacks in his 1st 3 games as a rookie, then in 2nd year Woodley was an impact OLB who had a monster year (11.5 sacks). Joey Porter as rookie was standout special teams player (vs Carter was not an impact player on STs), then in Porter’s 2nd year Porter had 10.5 sacks even tho Porter also was a DE in college. You didn’t mention those players, so I guess it’s pick & choose. Harrison is 1 fair point tho.

    Was Woodley’s & Porter’s early contributions at OLB in their 2nd years because those players the year before had fuller camp, it’s a stretch, but maybe.

    But then Inserting that Carter wont get depth reps this year because of new CBA, sounds like hedging in another excuse. Because Adrian Robinson also is a backup OLB who would have the same whatever limit of # of reps if CBA causes a limit. So Robinson with the same limit as Carter & a year less experience than Carter in NFL, we’ll see which one makes more impact in preseason. I hope Carter is improved because I’m a Steeler fan. Whoever turns out best, let the best man win.

  • The trouble with the Steelers of late is they are content to keep players that can’t play as starters or back ups, the truth is that there are about 10 more guys on the roster that should be sent packing because all they will ever do as Steelers is cash a pay check. Not their fault, it is the lousy personnel dept. which was long over due for a shake up which just happened .

  • I can agree with that…I think Worilds, Woodley, Jones, Carter and Robinson are probably the 5 with Jones, Carter and Robinson playing ST’s.

  • emac2

    What planet are you from?

  • Nolrog

    There’s a lot of Steelers entering the year surrounded by question marks. Could probably make a post a day on this topic and last a good 2 weeks.

  • rizzo29

    Time for Carter to sh$t or get off the pot,Seize the moment

  • rizzo29

    Really SteelSpine, It,s pretty obvious your a Steelers fan, no need to tell him that

  • JC

    Chris Carter was a 5th round draft pick. To be honest, my expectations of him weren’t very high. It would be nice for him to become a reliable backup and solid special teams player,but I wouldn’t expect greatness.

  • Pete

    Everything that has transpired so far leaves me with the belief that Worilds and Carter are substitutes for the ROLB position until Jones gets up to speed (assuming he’s not a bust). Steelers don’t have full confidence in either Worilds or Carter and are hoping Jones lives up to expectations. So all that is expected of Worilds and Carter is that they plug the hole this year until Jones is ready to go possibly next season. We’ll see.

  • steeltown

    I agree with you.. injuries have made it so we need to carry 5 OLB’s and if Carter doesn’t show much in training camp then A.Robinson will easily be the primary backup on the left side, where he showed promise last preseason.

    I’ll be rooting for both these guys (Carter & Robinson) you can never have enough solid depth, especially behind Woodley

  • steeltown


  • steeltown

    Carter is an enigma… haven’t given up on him.. but he’s on a very short leash with a few others like Stevenson Sylvestor, Curtis Brown & Baron Batch who all really have to turn the corner or they’re gone. Of course Dwyer and Redman need to show they are worth keeping around (battle for #2) and then of course there is Worilds and Ziggy Hood who are basically playing for not just their future with the Team, but stature in the League should they not be retained in Pittsburgh

    Should make for good competition this year

  • $19122620

    Haha, yeah, I pretty much assume everyone posting on this site is a Steeler fan, haha!

  • SteelSpine

    It’s only because when someone says a Steeler isn’t quite playing like a Hall-Of-Famer heheh, people post things like “real Steeler fans don’t point that out, real Steeler fans only write rah rah roots for Steelers”.

  • A pretty nice core of OLBs! I am excited..

  • If you believe other wise, your lobotomy was a failure.

  • emac2

    If you’re such an amazing personnel guy why isn’t anyone paying you?

  • Nolrog

    Seize the movement? 😉

  • rizzo29

    moment, do something with his opportunity