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Giants’ 90-man roster: Is Lorenzo Carter ready for the next step?

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Giants looking for second-year edge rusher to continue building his resume

NFL: New York Giants at New York Jets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Giants had a defender manage to post double-digit sacks was in 2014 when Jason Pierre-Paul recorded 12.5 sacks.

To put that accomplishment in perspective, the Giants have since had three head coaches (Ben McAdoo, Steve Spagnuolo, and Pat Shurmur) and two defensive coordinators (Spagnuolo and James Bettcher).

That’s a mighty long dry spell for a defensive unit that claims to pride itself on being aggressive in getting after the quarterback.

This year with an improved defensive secondary on board to hopefully hold the coverage better, there is hope that the Giants will not only be in the top half of the league in sacks but will have one of their young players, such as second-year man Lorenzo Carter, emerge as a double-digit sack artist.

The basics

Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 252
Age: 23
Position: Edge
Experience: 2

How he got here

Carter was a third-round pick (No. 66 overall) out of the University of Georgia and the eighth linebacker chosen overall in the 2017 draft.

However, like most young draft picks, Carter’s jump from college, where in four seasons he posted 166 total tackles (83 solo), 21.5 tackles for a loss, 14.0 sacks and six forced fumbles, to the pros is a work in progress.

In 442 defensive snaps over 15 games (with two starts), Carter finished with 43 tackles, 4.0 sacks, and four passes defensed — not bad numbers for his first season.

According to Pro Football Focus, Carter finished tied for 11th (out of 25 rookie edge rushers) in pass-rushing productivity with a 6.3 score achieved in 298 pass-rush snaps.

His 17 hurries put him in the top 10 among rookie edge rushers, tying him for ninth with Frankie Luvu of the Jets and Uchenna Nwosu of the Chargers.

But like most rookies, Carter underwent a transition period where he probably wasn’t playing as fast as he is capable of doing, a factor not lost on outside linebackers coach Mike Dawson, who will work with Carter and the rest o the edge rushers for the first time this year.

“He’s got the tools where he’s strong enough, and he’s got the athletic ability,” Dawson said.

“Really kind of getting to know this language. He was in kind of a 3-4 system in college, but some of the terms are different. It may be the same term, just named something different, and having to process that in your head. When you don’t have to think about that, I think that helps you play a little bit better.”

2019 outlook

With Olivier Vernon having been traded to Cleveland, Carter will get a golden opportunity to compete for some of those snaps in tandem with Markus Golden.

Defensive coordinator James Bettcher, who is counting on Carter to play a more prominent role in this year’s defense, noted that like all players before him, it’s all about building up one’s resume.

Lorenzo Carter has to build his resume,” Bettcher said. “The only way the guys get a chance to do that is on the field getting snaps. Getting their butt coached off and taking it.”

Carter, who spoke before this year’s draft, sounded patient when it came to questions about feeling pressure to add sacks.

“Sacks are going to come. Sacks are the things that people over analyze and like to look at a lot,” he said.

“If we play the way we are supposed to play and work fast and hard, it is going to come. Everything will fall into place. I am not worried about trying to add sacks to the team. It will come.”

Sacks might eventually come, but it would sure help in the meantime if players can get off blocks and at least pressure opposing quarterbacks into throwing quicker than they’d prefer.