One of the biggest standouts in Bengals training camp was fifth-year linebacker Chris Carter.
Carter, who signed with Cincinnati in December 2014 after a host of injuries at linebacker, was a pass-rushing force in camp who made it difficult for any Bengals lineman to slow down. The 6-1, 248-pounder consistently showed the ability to dip his pads and get under bigger lineman and beat them to the edge to either hit or pressure the QB.
However, Carter didn't do much in the first preseason game vs the Giants, registering just one QB hit and no tackles or sacks. If Carter is to make the Bengals' final roster, he's going to have to show more in actual preseason games, and he did that in a big way vs the Bucs.
Carter finished the game with 1.5 sacks, two QB Hits and a tackle-for-loss along with several other pressures. As mentioned above, Carter was consistently getting under the pads of his blocker and winning the leverage battle to help get around the edge and get to the QB from behind.
Chris Carter bending around the tight end with speed. Had been winning consistently with this rush in camp https://t.co/Khb7YM8TX0— Brennen Warner (@BrennenWarner) August 25, 2015
Chris Carter beats a tight end again with outside rush. Dips left arm under, keep bending towards QB https://t.co/dmIHMJYaqP— Brennen Warner (@BrennenWarner) August 25, 2015
If Carter keeps this up, he'll not only make the final roster, but could see significant snaps this year for a Bengals defense that finished last in sacks in 2014. He's actually played in 33 regular-season games with the Bengals, Colts and Steelers, but has never registered a sack and has just 11 career tackles.
At age 26, it is possible Carter has finally grown into the kind of NFL player that can make an impact if used in the correct role. Maybe the Bengals have found that role for Carter as a nickel pass-rusher. He's thriving in that role against backups and third-stringers.
With only two preseason games left, it's time to give Carter more run with the starters and see if he's not only worth a spot on the final roster, but worthy of a significant role in the defense this year.