NFL

Giants’ Lorenzo Carter confident in his return after watching Kevin Durant

One of the unheralded stories at New York Giants training camp this summer is the return of linebacker Lorenzo Carter from a ruptured Achilles tendon. Carter went down in Week 5 last year, suffering a non-contact injury that would end his season.

Carter is heading into the fourth and final year of his rookie contract. He entered last season with high hopes of it being a breakout year. Instead, the injury robbed him of that opportunity and now he faces a more pressing situation. If he doesn’t kick his career up a notch, the former third-round pick out of Georgia will be looking for a new team in 2022.

For now, Carter is just glad to be back on the field and healthy. The Giants’ defense has become one of the top units in the NFL and he wants to play his role.

“It’s fun, it’s exciting just getting a chance to be out there,” Carter told reporters this past weekend. “Last year, I missed a whole lot of experiences, a whole lot of time with the guys. All that time I spent in the training room or at home by myself with my dog, I get to spend it with my real dogs now like (defensive lineman Leonard Williams), get to be out there with all them, all the other guys, the linebackers. We’re just building that bond right now.”

Carter said he learned how to deal with the injury by watching several other sports figures in the same situation such as former teammate Cody Core and Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant.

“We had the same surgeon actually,” Carter said of Durant. “But besides that, injuries are probably the worst part of the game ever. I wish they could be taken away completely, but it’s just this sport. To see a guy like KD come back from an Achilles and do what he’s doing right now, knowing that I have the same surgeon, I trust all the trainers, we have the same protocols, I have the best people in the world with their hands on me. I just trust the process and I know there’s going to be work, but you’ve got to put it in.”

The Giants’ linebackers are in a pinch right now with Blake Martinez returning from the COVID-19 list and free agent Reggie Ragland on the NFI (non-football injury) list.

Carter is hopeful he will regain his starting role at the left outside linebacker spot. It won’t be easy. There are a slew of young players competing for roles on this defense and the Giants’ base 3-4 alignment figures to feature five defensive backs on most downs.

Let us not discount that the Giants have brought in another stud linebacker from Georgia in this year’s draft with Azeez Ojulari. Carter is excited to see what the former Bulldog will bring to the Giants’ defense.

“It’s been great. We’re going to build our team through the draft and with the guys that we’ve got. We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing,” Carter said. “Azeez is a great addition to the team, but we have a lot of rookies that came in, so really the key is get them all, teach them as much as we can right now until the bullets start flying for real and then they’ll learn from that. But great having those young guys in here.”

Those young players are aplenty. There’s not just Ojulari but also the four rookies from last year’s draft — Cam Brown, Carter Coughlin, T.J. Brunson and Tae Crowder. Then there are free agents Ifeadi Odenigbo and Ryan Anderson as well as Ohshane Ximines and Devante Downs among others for Carter to fend off.

Not all play the outside but in a lineup where Martinez is the stalwart, there’s more of a rotation at the other spots and with five defensive backs on the field, the linebackers will be jockeying for playing time.

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