Q&A with: Ki-Jana Carter

Ki-Jana Carter has battled one injury after another since entering the league in 1995 as the No. 1 choice in the draft. Now he's healthy. And he's having fun playing football again. He's developing into a third-down back and change-of-pace runner to Stephen Davis. Carter has rushed for 100 yards on 14 carries and has caught six passes for 34 yards.

Q: How gratifying is it to show what you can still do?

A: I'm just happy I'm out here playing again and it feels good that I'm contributing to the team and helping them win and doing my part. You really take it game by game, but I thank God every day for giving me this opportunity to be out here again. You start to appreciate the little things that you missed. Right now I'm sore and hurting and last year at this time I wasn't doing anything. I was wanting to feel sore after a game. Little things like that so when have dog days, that's what I tell myself.

Q:What were you doing at this time last year?

A: Just working out. Waiting to get picked up by a team. I'd get up in the morning, go work out then do whatever afterward. There would be other guys work out with me. But there were days I had nothing to do, and as it got closer to the weekend and you'd see the football games. . . .

Q:What have you shown the most?

A: I try to do the best I can. I'm used to making plays. That's my mentality when I go out there, I'm trying to score a touchdown. I don't know how many times I'll touch the ball the way Stephen's playing and the way Tony's playing, I'll have a limited amount of snaps and I'll try to make something happen. Hopefully I can be a change of pace. Me and Stephen have two different styles, we have the same speed, he goes slow, then it's zroooooom. I'm full stride on the beginning. I want to be out there as much as I can.

Q: Weird to be the change of pace guy? Everyone thought you'd be the guy setting the pace.

A: Well, yeah. But at the end of my time in Cincinnati when Cory Dillon was doing well I was in the same role. But it didn't happen as much because I was injured. In the end it will make me a better player. If I need to be out there every play I can do that.

Q: Do you also want to show other teams that you can still be effective?

A: I'm not really caught up in all that. Right now I'm a Redskin. I'm not thinking like this is going to propel me for next year. When you do that you lose sight of the ultimate goal. Right now we're back in the playoff hunt. That's the only thing I'm worried about.

Q: Are you a changed runner from a few years ago?

A: I don't think so. I've always had that will, I want to be the best I can. If anything I'm more experienced and more diverse as a runner. I can come out of the backfield and catch the ball and do different things which in my earlier career I was not asked to do. It makes my game that much stronger.

Q: Do you like that role? Do you like picking up blitzes?

A: I don't think anyone likes picking up blitzes. But it's doing your job. And once you do that it gives the linemen and for the defense it says this person is selling his body out for the benefit of the team, it's a positive feeling throughout.

Q: Are there any particular plays that you're really proud of, aside from your longer runs?

A: I guess the biggest thing was getting to the end zone in the preseason. But I need to get one during the regular season. For the most part I'm happy to be out there. Even when I don't have a good run I'm just happy to be back out there.

Q: Have you heard a lot from opposing guys that they're glad you're back?

A: Yeah. Especially because I know a lot of guys throughout the league and a lot are happy for me. Everyone says I'm looking good too. Guys I went to school with. They know what I've been through. I don't see it as hard work, I was just working out. I was so ready to come back and play. But a lot of people would have probably given up by now. To hear a lot of people say they're proud of me that I stuck it through it's a good feeling. And that shows what kind of character I have. Sometimes I'm like a little kid, I'm into the game on offense, defense and special teams. You don't know when this is over.

Q: Describe your Mondays now. What feelings did you miss the most?

A: It's just your body aching. I don't like it, but it means you're back playing again. And to be in the locker room, guys talking about different plays in the game. When you're there you don't think about it as much, but once you're away and you come back, you just enjoy it.

Q: Can you feel good because you've been through so much, or is it in the back of your mind that you're only a play away from having it taken away again?

A: Definitely. It really humbles you. I've always been a humble person for the most part, but coming out everyone thinks they're invincible. But God does certain things to certain people for certain reasons, so I've never gotten down on myself because I know what kind of abilities I can have and what I can do so it was just a matter of getting back out there. But getting acclimated with a team I think I can adapt to any environment. I wasn't worried about where I would be because I knew I'd make friends.

Q: When did you think you had a good chance to make the team?

A: As soon as I signed my name on the dotted line I knew it was my job to give away. That's all I was doing, going out and being the best player I can be. I knew eventually people would see my true ability.

Q: When did you think you were back to the kind of player you can be?

A: Just going through training camp, I didn't know what to expect. Once we started doing pad practices and physical stuff then in games I was doing all right. Maybe the Kansas City game where my stats weren't great, but felt I was back here and maybe I could do something.


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