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Bengals Chris Carter making an argument for the 53-man roster

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"He's done a good job of trying to earn an opportunity as an outside rusher, and on some of the substituted defenses," said Lewis during Monday's press conference. "He has the right background to do that, and he did a nice job for us on special teams when we added him last season."

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Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Chris Carter has moved around, from one city to the next, from one position to another. Drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth round of the 2011 NFL draft, Carter spent three seasons and 29 games played (four starts) in Pittsburgh. Indianapolis signed him as a free agent last September, then waived him in October. Eventually Cincinnati, facing a shortage at linebacker with additional durability concerns, signed Carter in early December where he played four games, including the Bengals' wild card loss to the Colts in January.

Now he's become the preseason treat; transitioning from obscure talent (with a recognizable name) to someone with significant fan support due to his preseason production. Switching from defensive end to linebacker, Carter has rushed the passer 38 times (20 from defensive end, 18 from linebacker), generating 2.5 quarterback sacks (all from defensive end) and two additional pressures (both from linebacker) on the opposing quarterback.

What the hell is he? A linebacker or defensive end?

Despite the comfort of a player's versatility, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said he views Carter as a linebacker... right before transitioning into a series of praises. "He's done a good job of trying to earn an opportunity as an outside rusher, and on some of the substituted defenses," said Lewis during Monday's press conference. "He has the right background to do that, and he did a nice job for us on special teams when we added him last season. He's picked up where he left off there, and he's trying to really earn an opportunity to stay and carve out his own niche. He's done a good job."

Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther adds that his versatility is creating a significant argument for him to make this year's roster.

"If he's not going to be play in the nickel as a linebacker his value might be as a defensive end," Guenther said via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Kind of like how we did with David Pollack when he was here (in 2005). We drafted David for that role. It's good when you can do dual roles like that. It helps his chances of making the team."

Carter, who recognizes the possibility of this being his final opportunity, appreciates Cincinnati's honesty. Both positions he's worked at this summer are loaded with talent; injuries have opened the door to show his efforts. The Bengals told him that he'd "have to stand out in another way," writes Jim Owczarski with the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Pro Football Focus grades Carter with an overalls score of -0.9 but a team-leading +4.0 as a pass rusher -- his -3.2 score against the run is also the worst on the team. Yet, Cincinnati needs situational pass rushers and Marvin Lewis adds appreciation for his mentorship toward younger players, who could face a similar situation as someone in a constant battle to make the 53-man roster.

"He's a great example of a sense of urgency, and a great role model for the young guys to see because of how he does approach it," said Lewis. "He carries a briefcase, and that's the way you want to come about your job. He's a good example for some of these guys to emulate."