Carter: Washington just wasn't right fit

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Carter: Washington just wasn't right fit

FOXBORO -- It was a simple question.

After recording nine sacks in his first 10 games with the Patriots, Andre Carter was asked if he has been double-teamed more in the last two weeks against the Eagles and the Colts, in which he recorded no sacks and had only two solo tackles.

Carter gave a simple answer.

"Yup!" he said, smiling ear-to-ear. "You know the answer to that question."

And why wouldn't teams double-up on the Patriots' defensive end? Being brought back into a 4-3 scheme, Carter feels more comfortable than he did in his final season with the Washington Redskins last year.

That relationship ended in March, when Carter was released before he entered the final year of his contract with the team. Carter said the break-up was mutual. The Redskins had changed to a 3-4 defense, and both sides knew that Carter wasn't best suited as an outside linebacker.

"He wanted an opportunity to go someplace," said Redskins coach Mike Shanahan in a conference call on Wednesday. "And we had talked about his ability to rush the quarterback. We were running a 3-4 defensive scheme and using him more as an outside linebacker. And we knew we couldn't pay him what he was making. But we knew there would be somebody out there that would pay him what he deserved, or at least, what we thought he deserved. And we let him go, just because he was such a class guy."

"In the end, I knew it just wasn't right for me," said Carter on Wednesday, as he prepares for Sunday's game with his old Redskins team, in Washington. "And they knew that too, but they appreciated my hard work. I never complained. I just went out there day by day, and at the end, we shook hands, and it was a mutual agreement on both terms.

"Last year I played more of the linebacker-type position in the 3-4," he said. "I covered a lot more during that time last year. But now I'm just more of a defensive end, putting your hand in the dirt, and rock and roll."

Carter finished last season with only three sacks and 25 solo tackles in 16 games. He's already surpassed those totals in 12 games with New England, recording 29 solo tackles and nine sacks.

Not bad for a guy who thought his NFL career was over after he parted ways with Washington, before signing with the Patriots in August.

"Everything that I've done has been such a blessing, to be here and get picked up," said Carter. "Because I tell everybody, I thought I was actually done, coming into this season. So just to be productive and just to have fun and play the game that I've been blessed to play for so many years. It's just a wonderful feeling.

"Because of what was going on with the lockout, and vets not getting picked up, it was definitely a long shot. But God has definitely blessed me and my family, I'm enjoying every moment."

Bill Belichick saw that the 3-4 wasn't a good fit for Carter, and brought him to New England because he thought he'd be a good fit in their 4-3 scheme.

"We need players that can play and hes done a good job of that," said Belichick. "Certainly bringing a professional approach to the game, thats great too. Hes done a good job at everything. Hes very attentive. Hes in excellent physical condition, hes out there, he takes a lot of plays, he plays them hard in practice and the games. Hes very professional in his approach.

"Weve asked him to do some different things, hes embraced those and tried the things that he knows how to do. The things that are a little bit new or different for him, hes tried hard to learn and understand how we want those things done. Very unselfish player that works hard and is consistent. You get the same effort out of him every day, seven days a week, whatever this is, 16 games or however many weve played. Hes really the same dependable player on a daily basis with a lot of consistency. All those are strengths. I dont know how you rank them, but theyre all important. He does a great job at all of them. Hes been such a pleasure to have on this team and hes added a lot to our football team in a lot of different ways."

Tom Brady echoed the same sentiment.

"Hes got a great attitude, really professional," said Brady. "You see the way he takes care of himself before practice, after practice. He's always out there doing extra conditioning. He's really a true professional, and thats why he's been around. That's why hes been productive really everywhere he's been. Its great to have him on the team."

After a few weeks in which he hasn't been quite as effective as his first nine games of the season, Carter now finds himself in an emotional game, walking into his old team's building.

He admitted, on Wednesday that leaving Washington was a risk, but said, "I had to go upon my faith in my ability to know that that particular fit just didn't work for what I did. I did my due diligence last year, as far as learning a new position."

And he's doing more than just his "due diligence" this season with the Patriots. He's back in his comfort zone as a defensive end, and he's having the type of season he once thought he'd never get the opportunity to have again.

Now, heading into Week 14, he's being double-teamed for his bounce-back performance. And he's handling it the Patriot way.

"As a player, you try to find a way to make those adjustments, but I can't get frustrated," said Carter. "I just think I'm just happy to see other guys playing well, and that's what you do. You celebrate with your teammates, because this is a team sport."

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

FOXBORO -- The highly-anticipated first Patriots injury report of the week was released on Wednesday afternoon, and it was fairly predictable. 

Both injured quarterbacks were active but limited in their practice participation, the report indicated. That comes as little surprise as both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) were spotted throwing passes early in Wednesday's practice. Neither appeared to be experiencing any significant discomfort as they made their warm-up throws. 

Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) were also limited. Gronkowski admitted that the team was taking it slow with him in his first game back on the field last week -- he played just 14 snaps in New England's win over Houston -- but he said on Wednesday that he hoped to go "freakin' crazy" on the field soon.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)

BUFFALO BILLS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Charles Clay (knee)
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

FOXBORO -- Jimmy Garoppolo spoke Wednesday for the first time since getting his shoulder separated by the Dolphins’ Kiko Alonso. Standing by his locker, Garoppolo was predictably vague about the status of his arm, unless you consider, “Getting better day by day,” as being insightful. 

The only two responses offered that were worth a damn came when asked if he could have done anything different when he got squished by Alonso while retreating and buying time.  

“Just have to be smart I guess,” said Garoppolo. “I mean, it’s football and stuff’s gonna happen like that, but have to be smart in those situations.”

Asked if he regretted holding the ball as long as he did on a third-down play with the Patriots up 21-0, Garoppolo replied, “After it’s all said and done it’s easy to say that, but it’s one of those things, you’re in the heat of the game. But bottom line I have to be smarter than that.”

Agreed.  

Meanwhile, as he worked last week to get back for Thursday night’s game against Houston, The Boston Herald reported that the Patriots were “putting pressure” on Garoppolo to be ready for the game. Working hard to get key players ready for upcoming games is standard operating procedure for a medical staff. Trying to force a player to perform is not. 

I asked Garoppolo if he felt unduly pressured. He replied, “No.”