Every Friday, Rob Ryan gets to address the press in what is usually a highly entertaining but also very informative 10-15 minutes (watch the entire video on the mothership). It was no different today as he talked at length about his past with the Browns and how that motivates him for the game on Sunday.
Towards the end of the interview, Ryan touched on his inside linebacker unit, starting with the fact that Dan Connor will be back on Sunday against the Browns, and that the Cowboys will mix it at linebacker between Connor, Sims and Albright - next to Bruce Carter:
"Ernie Sims is a tough guy. I know he doesn’t look like much in a fight but he does a heck of a job when he plays. Any time you get a player back it’s great. We plan on playing both those guys, and we also plan on playing Alex Albright even more this week."
"Those are good football players. We use them and we’re happy. Once you have a good player, you’ve got to put him into the game and use him – and that’s what we do."
"Bruce is going to be a mainstay for us, regardless of whether he starts or not, in our dime defense and playing that nickel linebacker," Jones told KTCK "The Ticket" 1310 AM.
"He’s going to be a handful. One of the things that has really stuck out in this camp is what a great coverage guy he is."
Today, it looks like the Stephen Jones got that right, and Rob Ryan was effusive in his praise of Carter:
"I never thought he’d have the ascension that Sean Lee did, but he has. I mean, he has. That’s the bottom line. This guy has become a hell of a football player right in front of our eyes, this season."
"I wouldn’t have predicted that. Absolutely not. But he is a tremendous football player. He’s playing as fast as his great athleticism allows him to play; he’s smart; he works hard; he’s with [Linebackers coach Matt] Eberflus all the time. This guy is phenomenal."
"Is he already a great football player? Yes he is, and he’s getting better and it’s just like Sean did last season. It’s amazing."
Asked to think about playing a healthy Lee and Carter in the same defense next year, Ryan’s reaction was very straightforward:
"Oh. My. God"
"Right now, this is our season. We want to accomplish all our goals that we can, and if we play right we can get there. But next season is going to be something special when you get all these players back. It ought to be the best in football. It really should be."
"I’ve never seen a guy with his cover ability," Ryan continued about Carter. "He hits. He’s got passion for the game. The sky is the limit for this guy. Again, would I have been able to predict that before the season? Absolutely not.
"He’s getting better and better each week, and it’s a testament to him and how hard he’s worked. And also how great [Coach Matt Eber-] ‘Flus is. And I know everybody gives me crap, but that’s the truth: the guy is a hell of a football coach."
Ryan also briefly touched on how the Cowboys came to draft Carter, pointing out that he himself gets no credit for picking Carter:
"It was none for me, cause I don’t do the drafting. Our guys do a phenomenal job. Will McClay [Cowboys Director Of Football Research] and Cisco [Tom Ciskowski, Assistant Director of Player Personnel] and those guys, they’re doing a fantastic job and I was glad they drafted him."