Skip to main content

News | Washington Commanders -

For Carter, 'Opportunity Is Always Now'

In his first five NFL seasons, Andre Carter showed flashes of dominance as a pass rusher. He had 32 career sacks entering the 2006 season, and in 2002, he posted 12.5.

Now, in his first season with the Redskins after signing with the team as an unrestricted free agent last March, Carter finds himself in a new career chapter, one calling for him to ascend to the elite level of pass rushers in the league.

It hasn't been an easy start for the 6-4, 265-pounder, though.

In his first three games as a Redskin, Carter struggled to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks and had no sacks.

By Week 4, last Sunday against Jacksonville, Carter finally produced his best game of the season, sacking quarterback Byron Leftwich in the first quarter and pressuring him twice more later in the game. Carter finished with four tackles and, overall, the Redskins sacked Leftwich four times in the game.

"I think for Andre it will be a confidence-builder for him," head coach Joe Gibbs said. "He has worked extremely hard and I don't think he has missed a play. In practice, he's first in every drill and he's in great shape."

Carter often quotes his father, Rubin, the Redskins' defensive line coach in 1999-2000 and a nose tackle on Denver's "Orange Crush" defense of the 1970s: "He always told me, 'Son, time waits for no man."

In other words, the time is now.

"One thing I've realized during my career, time goes by fast, especially in this game," Andre Carter said. "You're in one minute, you're out the other. The opportunity is always now."

Last year in San Francisco, Carter was used as an outside linebacker in the 49ers' 3-4 scheme, recording 58 tackles and 4.5 sacks. But defensive end is his natural position, and Gibbs has said Carter is probably more comfortable lining up in a three-point stance.

Lining up against quality left tackles in Bryant McKinnie and Flozell Adams in the first few weeks of the NFL season slowed Carter as he made the transition back to end.

"The first four weeks, he's gone up against real good tackles," Gibbs said. "A lot of teams are max protecting against us, too. Hopefully, [his performance against Jacksonville] will give him confidence. Certainly I would think it would be an encouragement for him."

Said Carter: "I feel like the scheme that we have here suits me. It's an attacking style of defense. Everybody brings a certain factor to the scheme. We're blessed with speed. We've got guys flying around, we've got big guys like Joe Salave'a. We've got Cornelius Griffin and Phillip Daniels. Everybody is going to get a chance to make plays."

Before the season started, Carter refused to put a number on how many sacks he was aiming for this year, saying only that he'll play at a high intensity level.

"It's important to do what the coaches ask you to do," he said. "If I can help contribute to the team, whatever way possible, whatever I can do, that's what I'll do. Our goal is to definitely have a winning record and from there move on to the playoffs. And everybody has a dream of the Super Bowl. Everyday, I'm focused on my technique, how I execute and how I play. Then everything else will come into play."

Carter, a unanimous first-team All-American during his college days at California and the seventh overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft, has described his first five years in San Francisco as an "adventure."

Aside from his 12.5 sacks in 2002, he played in three different defensive schemes with the 49ers, suffered from nagging injuries and played outside linebacker last season, not his first choice for a position. Having played defensive end since 10th grade, he says it's great to be "back in the trenches."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.