Tony Carter, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound cornerback, was engulfed by the media in the Broncos' locker room this week. He seemed a little shocked, but he handled the attention usually reserved for a star player as best he could. How he plays against quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots' passing attack in the AFC championship game Sunday is a bigger, more important matter. After spending much of the season on the bench because of a series of early season mistakes, Carter has been thrust into the spotlight because starting cornerback Chris Harris went down with a knee injury in Denver's divisional playoff victory over San Diego last Sunday. Carter said he's ready. "My confidence is always high, no matter if I'm playing or not playing," he said. "We'll be ready. It's a big game, so there's no time for thinking about what did and didn't happen." Head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio aren't about to reveal how they will replace Harris, arguably Denver's best cover corner this season. The Broncos will likely try several looks, but Carter could be in the spotlight. "We need everybody that's going to be up, corners, safeties that are involved and that get a uniform," Del Rio said. "We need him to help us win, help us play well. I wouldn't isolate on any one guy. I think we've got a number of guys that will be up and used in different combinations and the guys that play need to play well." When the Broncos line up in their base defense, Brady will likely see veteran Champ Bailey lining up opposite Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. But when the Broncos find themselves in the nickel package, with five defensive backs, Bailey will likely be asked to shift inside to cover the slot receiver and Carter will line up as the other outside corner. Carter's promotion would come at the expense of Quentin Jammer, who struggled against San Diego after Harris was injured. Jammer was beaten twice on the opening drive of the fourth quarter, including a 16-yard touchdown pass to Kennan Allen that cut Denver's lead to 24-14. But Carter has had his share of high-profile miscues. He was essentially benched after Denver's 51-48 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 6 when Tony Romo torched the Broncos for 506 yards passing. When the Broncos lost 34-31 in overtime to the Patriots on Nov. 24, wide receiver Wes Welker tried to wave his teammates off a Patriots punt. Welker's call came late and the punt bounced off Carter, allowing the Patriots to recover the ball and kick the game-winning field goal. And not to be forgotten is Carter's role in last year's playoff loss to the Ravens. Everyone remembers the sight of the flailing Rahim Moore allowing Jacoby Jones get behind him for a miracle 70-yard touchdown pass that tied the Ravens-Broncos playoff game late in regulation. But it was Carter who was supposed to jam Jones near the line of scrimmage, then cover him down the sideline. Neither happened. Now Carter gets a shot at redemption — against Brady, one of the all-time greats.
Tony Carter ready to shine for the Broncos
Denver Post | Jan 18