Broncos safety Jamal Carter is making a switch to linebacker. (Photo: Denver Broncos)
Making a position switch is not always easy...especially at the pro level. But, that's what Jamal Carter is attempting to do.
As I reported earlier Sunday, according to a Broncos source, the idea was Carter's. The third year safety, who missed all of 2018 with a hamstring injury, conducted his own "straw poll" so-to-speak, and thinks in the numbers game that making the 53-Man roster can be, securing a spot at linebacker is easier than at safety.
Now Carter's transition may not be that difficult, at least not fundamentally. He's simply sliding down in the box to give it a go at inside linebacker. Conversely, his draft classmate, Brendan Langley is switching sides of the ball going from cornerback, where he was drafted, to wide receiver where he played until he transferred from Georgia to Lamar following his rookie year in college.
"I've been wanting to play this since high school and college," Carter said. "I like being in the trenches. I'm a physical specimen. I don't like being too deep away from arms and contact. It’s going to fit me."
Head Coach Vic Fangio knows a little something about linebackers. He cut his teeth in the NFL coaching the famed "Dome Patrol" 3-4 linebacking corps of the New Orleans Saints in the late 80s/Early 90s. That unit featured Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson, and perennial pro bowlers Sam Mills, Pat Swilling and Vaughn Johnson.
Carter's desire to move down in the box full-time may have been catalyzed a bit by injuries to Todd Davis, Joe Jones and Josey Jewell. Jewell returned to practice Sunday. Fangio said after practice that Davis is on track to return soon-ish, but will be eased in. Jones status remains a bit more mirky, as he continues to find the right path of treatment for his injured elbow.
Not surprisingly, Fangio seems to be on board with the position switch for Carter, at least for the time being. "We’re going to move him to inside linebacker right now," he said. "Right now, it’s temporary, but if he looks good in there it will be permanent. It’s twofold. Our numbers have gotten low there and he’s always wanted to play in there, so the timing was good. He wants to be in there."
It may just be coincidence, but it's worth noting, Carter sustained his season-ending hamstring injury exactly 365 days ago in the Broncos first pre-season game against Minnesota. If he sticks at linebacker, and let's say, not only makes the 53, but thrives, he can turn a date that may have been one of the darkest in his career, to on of the brightest.
Speaking of bright, Pro Bowl running back Phillip Lindsay was one of the few bright spots for a struggling Broncos offense in 2018. He's looked good in practice, and should see as many, if not more touches than he saw a year ago as a rookie. Nonetheless, when the Broncos added 6th-year veteran Theo Riddick, some questions, or maybe rumblings, to be more accurate, were raised about Lindsay's health as it relates to his wrist.
I asked the South high and CU Product about his wrist on Sunday after playing in a football game for the first time since he was injured on Christmas Eve in Oakland. In typical Lindsay fashion he was very matter of fact about where he is in his recovery. "It feels good," he said. "I don’t even think about that anymore, honestly. It is 100 percent healed and so now I just focus on getting back into it. That was the first game back since the injury. It was exciting to get back there and get some rust off. I feel comfortable.”
Lindsay's health should directly impact Joe Flacco's success. Lindsay was asked about his new QB, and as expected, was very complimentary.
This time of year, the training room is a bit of a revolving door at every Training Camp, and the Broncos are no different.
The loss in Seattle hurt more than just seeing Paxton Lynch dance in the end zone against 3rd and 4th team defenders. As was feared, rookie undrafted rookie Tight End, Austin Fort, from Wyoming tore his ACL and is on the injured reserve list for the year. There was better news as it relates to fullback Andy Janovich, who left the field with an apparent pectoral injury. That strained pec will leave him on the shelf for 6-8 weeks.
Speaking of 6-8 weeks, Riddick joins Jano on that same timetable to get back on the field. Turns out his final of is 6 plays Thursday would be his last for a while. As he stretched for a bad Kevin Hogan throw on 4th and 2 in the 1st quarter against the Seahawks, the contact with the Seattle defender was enough to do some damage.
2 things are mildly amusing about his injury. When Hogan threw the ball off Riddick's finger tips, I commented to the handful of reporters sitting near me in the press box, "those are the types of throws that get guys hurt." It turns out I was right, but Riddick didn't even realize it until Friday, after the soreness set in. Fangio provided a little more insight into what's going on with Riddick.
Also, defensive backs Kareem Jackson and Horace Richardson are on the shelf, at least for a little bit. Jackson is battling a slight hamstring issue, but it doesn't appear to be serious.
Now for the good news, starting linebacker Josey Jewell returned to the practice field, after straining an oblique last Monday.
But, the more exciting news on the day, was the return of Tight End Jake Butt.
Broncos Tight End Jake Butt throws the ball back after catching a pass early in practice. (Photo: Brandon Krisztal/KOA NewsRadio)
Butt hasn't practiced since the 3rd day of Training Camp, July 20. Fangio characterized Butt's absence from practice as a "speed bump" on the road to recovery. He's since used that phrase about a number of players. Of course, it was maybe to be expected in Butt's case, because the 3rd-year tight end is working back after suffering a 3rd torn ACL.
When I spoke with Butt last week, he was encouraged in his progress, and told me he'd be back out before the end of the pre-season. As someone who proclaimed him the steal of the draft, when the Broncos selected him in the 5th round of the 2017 draft, I was encouraged when he was so confident about his return. I'll be honest, I didn't expect to see him back on the field this soon.
Following Sunday's practice, Butt opened up about his recent setbacks "Absolutely frustrating," he said "It’s been the hardest thing, mentally, I’ve ever had to go through. I put the work in every single day. This is what I want to do. I want to be out here more than anything in the world. This isn’t by choice that I’m sitting in the training room or that I’m dealing with these little hiccups here and there. It’s definitely not by choice. The work has been put in. I went nine months without any of this and I think that it’s a frustrating thing to have to deal with it, but it’s part of the game and part of the recovery. I’m not going to feel sorry for myself. I’m not going to complain. I’ll just put my head down and work and get back out there."