It has been one of the bigger mysteries during training camp, the health of wide receiver DeAndre Carter. Carter had missed the entire OTAs and mandatory minicamp and the first ten practices of training camp with an undisclosed injury.
The Texans claimed Carter in early November of last season from the Philadephia Eagles in response to injuries at the wide receiver position. Carter came in and made an impact at the slot position and as a returner.
Carter in seven games caught 20 passes for 195 yards while averaging 24.6 yards a kick return and 9.1 yards a punt. His impact needed at the time and his return on Saturday is coming at the right time too.
Head coach Bill O'Brien was glad to see Carter back on the field working with the team.
"Good to see him out there," O'Brien said of Carter. "Slot receiver, punt returner, good guy, it's very important to him. Another guy that you're really looking for, relative to – you know, he's got to make the team, he's got to really perform well. But just as far as a person – smart, tough, dependable – that's what you're looking for."
Carter knew despite his success last season. He has to prove he is worthy of a roster spot.
"That is the NFL," Carter said of competing for a roster spot. "Fight to get in, fight to stay in. Every year, every day, you gotta fight to make the team. We got a stacked receiver group. It's gonna be hard to make this roster, I got to go out, put my best foot forward every day just like everybody else."
His success with the team was last season. 2019 brings new challenges, and one thing Carter does not do is take where he started for granted. Being undrafted out of Sacramento State, Carter keeps that in the back of his mind knowing there is no room for mistakes on the football field.
"You compete in college. It's not really the same level." Carter said of trying to lock down a roster spot. "'You're gonna be there for four years regardless. But here you gotta bring the A-game every day. You fall off, especially coming from my position undrafted and everything like that. You can't have too many bad days."
With Keke Coutee now injured with an ankle injury suffered in the preseason opener, the return of Carter comes at the right time for the offense. Carter knows with Coutee healthy his time will be limited in the offense. Now the door is open to show he can be a crucial piece to a Texans roster not only for the offense but in the return game too.
"I'm trying to make more contributions this year than I did last year," Carter explained. "We focus on getting better every single day moving forward."
That mentality helped Carter get through a rough stretch of watching his teammates from the sideline with an injury. An injury that Carter is not willing to share what kept him off the football field.
Carter has been waiting to get clearance to get back with the team. Now back on the football field for the first time since the Wildcard playoff, Carter was a full-go on Saturday.
"I feel great," Carter said of his health. "You know, my body probably a little more rested and everybody else. Having a few days off, but I feel good ready to get back out here get to work. I felt good today. Have to keep stacking the days."
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