Can Carter Contribute?

"Who is Drew Carter?" After all, Carter isn't the biggest star on the Panthers, and wasn't exactly a house-hold name at Ohio State University either. Drew Carter is the second year wide receiver out of Ohio State, whom the Panthers drafted in the 5th round last season. He tore his right ACL last June, and missed the entire 2004 season. He's a tall guy, and presently wears #18. Don't feel bad if you don't know much about Carter, not many fans outside of Ohio do either.

Drew Carter plans to change that soon.

In his entire collegiate career, Carter scored only 1 touchdown and had a total of 41 catches. Injuries kept him off the field for most of his career. In 2003, Carter started 7 of the Buckeyes' first 8 games until he tore his right ACL. In 2001, Carter tore his left ACL and missed the entire season. Carter managed to stay relatively healthy in 2000 and 2002, long enough to finish second in the long jump at the Big 10 championships. Reading these stats alone would lead you to believe that Carter was a below average player at a big time college. Why would the Panthers ever consider drafting an injury prone speedster that already had torn ACLs in both knees?

Despite Carter's torn ACLs, he still has outstanding speed. "Before the injury, he was a 4.2 guy, now he's about a 4.3 guy," fellow WR Steve Smith told WFNZ radio two weeks ago. "The thing about it that people forget is that torn ACLs don't really take your speed away," Carter said after a mini camp practice a couple weeks ago. "Speed doesn't come from your knees. It comes from your hamstrings. It comes from your quads, your hips. So basically, my speed never went away. It was just a matter of getting my knee strong."

Coming out of college, Carter was considered to be a great athlete with great leaping ability and outstanding hands. The Panthers drafted Carter with the idea of using his size as a weapon in the red zone and to stretch the field with his blazing speed. Standing 6' 3" tall, running a 4.3 40 yard dash and being a long-jumper on the Ohio State Track Team, Carter has the potential and physical tools to be a weapon that any team would covet. Despite the season ending injury early in the summer of his rookie season, Carter attended every meeting all season long. He's learned the playbook, and finally gets to make good on all his studying.

"I feel probably 100 percent," Carter said. "I feel more confident in myself. I don't think last year I really ran enough routes before camp. I feel more comfortable also; I know the guys, I know the plays, I know everything, so I'm more relaxed."

The Panthers have placed a lot of faith in a guy who has missed most of the last two years with ACL injuries. They didn't draft a wide receiver in last month's draft, and to date haven't signed any veterans either.

Carter views that as a vote of confidence from the staff and front office.

"I feel like they've put some trust in me," said Carter. "I'm very confident in my rehab, and the doctors are also. I think they see my speed and see I still can play out here, so I feel like they're still going to give me a shot. I appreciate them giving me that shot. A lot of guys probably would have been gone by now, maybe out on some island somewhere. I'm still here. And I'm just trying to get ready."

Carter definitely is putting his money where his mouth is. During the Panthers first mini camp a couple weeks ago, he streaked down the sideline with blistering speed, outrunning fellow Ohio State Alum Chris Gamble and made a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch that was thrown perfectly by Jake Delhomme that would have been a sure touchdown.

If mini camp was any indication, we can expect big things from Drew Carter. However, if you go by his recent personal history, we may never see that potential come to fruition.

Which Drew Carter will we see in Carolina this season?

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