Quinton Carter was considered a bit of a headhunter coming out the University of Oklahoma. Homeboy could hit and he wasn’t afraid to mix it up.
The Denver Broncos selected him with the 108th pick overall in the 4th round of the 2011 draft. He came to the team on the heels of fellow safety and draft-class brother, Rahim Moore, whom the Broncos selected in the 2nd round.
The off-season of 2011 was shortened because of the NFL Lockout. Like Moore, Von Miller and Nate Irving, Carter didn’t get as much time to assimilate with the team and soak in all of the complexities of playing football at the next level.
Going into the regular season, and I’ll put it bluntly, Rahim Moore was handed the starting free safety job because of his draft status. But once the real bullets were flying, it didn’t take long for Moore’s deficiencies to come out in the wash. He looked lost. He was missing tackles on the reg. It was painful to watch.
By week 7, the coaching staff essentially benched Moore and Carter was inserted into the starting line up, along side Brian Dawkins. The Broncos defense markedly improved.
Carter went on to have a very solid and impressive rookie campaign. He went on to start 10 games, along with 2 playoff games. He compiled 56 total tackles, 1 sack, and 7 stops. Per PFF, the stops statistic means this:
"The number of defensive solo tackles made which constitute and offensive failure, including sacks."
Carter even picked off a pass in each of the Broncos playoff games vs the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots.
The truth is, even though Carter played more consistently in 2011 than Moore did, both players had their ups and downs, but the future looked bright for the young safety duo.
Then the injury bug struck. Carter suffered a knee injury in the 2012 training camp that would not only require micro-fracture surgery, but also derail his young career. He missed almost all of the 2012 season and all of 2013.
But reports on Quinton Carter out of Dove Valley are encouraging. He is flourishing again. Now that he’s back to 100%, he’s even seeing time with the Broncos 1st string defense.
"Carter has been one of the feel-good stories of the Broncos’ offseason. After missing most of the past two seasons with a knee injury that required a microfracture procedure and strenuous rehabilitation to repair, Carter has been getting strong safety reps with the Broncos’ first-string nickel defense. And with the Broncos giving T.J. Ward some rest Thursday, Carter got every rep on the base defense."
This is exciting news. The Broncos could have given up on Carter last year, when it became apparent that he wasn’t going to be able to contribute to the team. They didn’t. They believe in the young “Predator”. That’s what I call him. Predator.
"Safety Quinton Carter: After two years of knee problems, what you want to see are sharp changes of direction and acceleration. He showed that this week. Considering how well he played on the first team in his rookie season, he could give the Broncos a potentially above-average starter as a backup, and withDuke Ihenacho and David Bruton possessing starting experience, the Broncos could have some of the best safety depth in the league."
Last season, the safety position was one of the Broncos biggest weaknesses. Now it’s a position of strength. With Rahim Moore and T.J. Ward projected as the starting safety duo, the Broncos also have Quinton Carter, David Bruton, Duke Ihenacho, John Boyett and Omar Bolden, although it’s very likely that the Broncos will release Bolden once it comes time to trim the roster down to 53. He just hasn’t been able to turn the corner, whether it be at cornerback or safety. And with Carter back in the mix, I have no doubt that he’ll make the final roster.
The Broncos are young and deep at safety and that bodes well for the present and the future. Quinton Carter is a very talented and smart player. Now that he’s 100%, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him play with the first team in the nickel, once the season starts. Keep Trevathan in as the cover linebacker. Move Ward down into the #2 cover linebacker spot and bring Carter in a strong safety.
The possibilities are endless. Carter might have given up his #28 jersey to Montee Ball, but it still says “Carter” on the back. Maybe it should say “Predator” because it’s time to hunt.