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Andre Carter: Repeat after me, it’s all about the reps

08.20.11 at 9:32 pm ET
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FOXBORO — As Albert Haynesworth re-introduced himself to the practice field on Saturday afternoon – albeit as purely an observer of a walk-through – his once and current teammate Andre Carter spoke of one of the most important facets in the life of a defensive lineman.

“Reps, reps and more reps,” said Carter, who played his first game in a Patriots uniform on Thursday night in Tampa. “I think overall, it was great to just put my hand in dirt and do what I do best, just compete.”

After not starting against Jacksonville, Carter got the call to start the game against the Bucs. And while his name didn’t show up in the stat sheet, his force along the defensive front, along with Kyle Love and Vince Wilfork opened up gaping holes for Jerod Mayo to crash through to the quarterback.

“I went up against Lee once or twice,” Carter said of his first-half battle against Bucs projected starting right tackle James Lee. “I definitely had a feel for him.”

But more than that, Carter reflected on how much he’s learned in his 10 previous seasons.

“Like any player, especially when a young player starts to mature have a long sense of longevity in the league, their technique starts to change and that’s nothing against the opponent himself. But, we call it the “crafty vet.” I think it was just studying film and once you get a feel for your opponent and play-by-play, you have an idea of what you need to do.”

So, what did he think of Haynesworth and Shaun Ellis returning to the practice field on Saturday, with Ellis taking part in end-of-practice drills?

“Their time will definitely come,” Carter said. “They’ve been in the playbooks and definitely getting in the mental game but everybody else knows, and I’m sure they know as well, you’ve got to definitely take the reps on the field. Only time will tell with them. Overall, it’s just a stepping stone. We’re never content. We’re always hungry to become better players and a better team.”

Of course, Carter is very familiar with Haynesworth, having teammed with him in Washington the last two seasons in Washington. Despite what’s been written and said, he believes Haynesworth will not only benefit from the character of the players around him but be an active part of the group.

“I think one thing we all take pride in is, despite the numbers, whether it’s big or small, we’re always constantly helping each other out, whether it’s vets talking to the younger guys or younger guys asking vets questions about perfecting themselves,” Carter said. “Being a vet myself, when a younger guy talks to me about a particular thing, it constantly reminds me of what skills I need to work on, what skills I need to perfect so we all feed off each other. To have that level of depth is always a great thing.

“I think one thing we have is a high level of character on and off the field. I think when you have a great number of guys where it’s not about ego but it’s just guys coming together and willing to work and have a big sense of camaraderie, you can definitely go a long way but you have to earn it every play and every game.”

Carter plans to be a part of that depth, which presently includes himself, Vince Wilfork, Kyle Love, Mike Wright, Gerard Warren, Eric Moore, Myron Pryor and Mark Anderson, with Haynesworth and Ellis waiting in the wings.

Just like the Red Sox starting pitching rotation, you can never have enough quality defensive linemen.

“It’s a blessing to have depth along the defensive line, as well as any position,” Carter said. “I think, first and foremost, it keeps a lot of guys fresh. As you know, this is a long season, 16 games is definitely a grind. So if you have a certain amount of depth and can rotate guys and keep guys fresh, it prepares definitely in the long run. But I think the most important thing is staying healthy.”

As for finally getting in and playing Thursday, Carter said he may have benefited from sitting out the first game at Gillette.

There’s one play he’d like to have back (pictured above) when he pursued too hard and missed a sure tackle on LeGarrette Blount in the backfield on a draw.

“I think one on a draw play,” he recalled Saturday. “I came too far up field and kinda missed a guy. It starts with practice and you’ve just got to perfect it in a game.

“I was definitely antsy to get in that first game but unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to play,” he said. “It was a stepping stone, a starting point to where I need to be. I still definitely have a long way to go, perfecting my technique. I mentioned tackling as one key thing but overall, I just take it day-by-day.”

Read More: 2011 training camp, Albert Haynesworth, Andre Carter, New England Patriots
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