Saints encouraged by CB Carter's first game back

The Saints hope that another week of practice will help get cornerback Dale Carter more into the swing of things.

He played well –- but not great –- against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday in his first action since being reinstated by NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue following an eight-game suspension for Carter's fifth violation of the league's substance abuse policy.

Carter said he would have graded himself out at about 60 percent, but most of his struggles were mental, not physical.

"They put me in coverages where most of the time it was man-to-man and I was loving it," he said. "When they get to doing all the motioning and bringing three guys on one side, we've got to switch up calls. It goes real fast and that's where I was kind of confused."

Carter had just four days of practice with the Saints before being thrown into the fire. He started and immediately bolstered the secondary's depth.

Ken Irvin had won the starting job in Carter's absence and moved to nickel back, although he tweaked a hamstring. The Saints secondary also welcomed back rookie corner Keyuo Craver, who returned after an MCL sprain in Week 2.

Saints coach Jim Haslett is hoping Carter's learning process continues.

"I thought he did a lot of good things," Haslett said. "He dropped the one interception. He gave up one first down because he wasn't really sure what defense it was. He was being more careful than he should have."

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