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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bruce Carter Primed for Leadership Role

Head Coach Lovie Smith said that Bruce Carter needs to be the quarterback of the Bucs' defense.

Photos of new Tampa Bay Buccaneer LB Bruce Carter from his time with the Dallas Cowboys. (AP Photos)

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Bruce Carter was one of the Bucs' key free agent signings this offseason and since arriving in Tampa, he's been working with the first-team defense as their middle linebacker. Although Carter is new to the Buccaneers, Head Coach Lovie Smith said that, because of the nature of his position, he needs to quickly develop into a leader on the Bucs' defense.

"There is a lot we ask of our linebackers, starting with making the calls," Smith said after the Bucs' final OTA practice on Thursday. "Bruce has done that. He has good athletic ability. Just look at our history with Mike linebackers – any good defense, it starts there. He is the quarterback of the defense. Bruce can handle all that, so we are excited about what we think he is going to bring to the table. I think he had about five interceptions, so he's a playmaker too. We need all that."

Carter arrives from a Dallas defense ran by Rod Marinelli, who employs a system similar to the Bucs'. Being somewhat familiar, Carter said, has helped his transition. But he was an outside linebacker in Dallas, and a new defense is still a new defense, so there will undoubtedly be an adjustment period.

"I think it makes it a lot easier, just knowing the scheme overall," Carter said. "For me as an individual, a player learning a new position, especially middle linebacker, it takes some time to get used to it and working at it. [Linebackers] Coach Hardy [Nickerson] has been doing a great job of helping me out with my keys and reads."

Carter had played his entire, four-year career in Dallas prior to arriving in Tampa. He's started 32 games over the past three seasons with the Cowboys and earned 57 tackles last year, despite appearing in just 13 contests.

Throughout OTAs, he, Lavonte David and Danny Lansanah have been the first-team linebacking core. Based on last year's stats, the group has the potential to earn 300 combined tackles in 2015.

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