Last offseason when defensive end Andre Carter joined the Patriots, it was just one of the many player gambles that Bill Belichick was taking. After a pretty dismal 2010 with the Redskins, would he be able to recover his pass rushing instinct he had for many years before in New England? I think he answered that question pretty decisively.
In 14 games last season, Carter recorded 10 sacks as the Patriots' primary 4-3 DE, but went down with a season-ending leg injury during Week 14. Had he been able to play the final three games of the season, Carter might be looking at a career season with the Patriots.
We flash forward to 2012, and Carter is once again free agent, and rehabbing from offseason surgery and trying to get back onto the field. The Patriots have yet to talk numbers with the 33-year old defensive lineman, but it appears that he is very much in the team's 2012 plans.
On Thursday at team OTAs, Carter was spotted with team trainers as he continues his rehab schedule. Jeff Howe of the Boston Globe offered up some insight into what is going on between the two sides.
The two sides were a strong match in 2011, as Carter's explosiveness off the edge made him one of the better pass rushers of Bill Belichick's tenure in New England. The defensive end was also a well-respected leader in a young locker room.
Neither side needs to be in a rush to work out a contract. The Patriots wrap up their organized team activities today and host mandatory minicamp next week before they break for a month and a half prior to training camp.
But for the time being, Carter and the Patriots have kept the lines of communication open
MESKO PREPARING FOR ANOTHER SEASON
As Patriots OTA's draw to a close and mini-camps on the horizon, players are starting to get back into football shape and getting ready for the next season. Yes, even the group commonly known as the "specialists" have to do a little bit of work, too.
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski will be looking to put up Pro-Bowl worthy numbers once again and long snapper Danny Aiken will look to progress in his second full season with the team. Zoltan Mesko, who's also known as the most interesting man in the NFL, will also look to progress in his game in his third year as the Patriots punter. With it, he feels good about heading into this season.
"I feel like mentally, 90 percent of this game is mental at this point - there aren't many physical strides you can make at this level," he said. "You can still tweak some things, but mostly, it's mental. I took the adjustments I made last year and I added them to my repertoire this year, and we keep building off that. That's what this period is for - it's to kind of introduce those things and get them in line and maybe learn some new things as well."
WARREN PRAISES DEDICATION OF TOM BRADY
Entering his third season with the Patriots, veteran defensive tackle Gerard Warren has fully bought into the "Patriot Way". At age 33, Warren has found himself in more of a leadership role on the defense.
But when it's all said and done, Warren says he is just one of many followers during Patriots OTAs to the forefront of the franchise, quarterback Tom Brady. He explains:
"It's not a struggle, but it's just one of the little things, one of the small keys of the game that's very important. The concentration level of the team, to see Tom putting an emphasis on it today, he emphasizes it, then the entire team should be."
"Tom is the guy in the front, but it's a team of leaders and that's the thing that I appreciate about being here so much. As much as in the forefront it's Tom, it's pretty much the entire team of leaders."