Linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. has become the popular breakthrough candidate for the Carolina Panthers here in 2021. In fact, his most vocal (and notable) supporter in his candidacy may be franchise legend Steve Smith.
Prior to the broadcast of Saturday night’s preseason tilt with the Baltimore Ravens, Smith stated his great belief in the fourth-year linebacker, suggesting he can be “the quarterback of the defense.” Carter Jr., on Monday, said that vote of confidence is a pretty big deal to him.
“It just comes with a lot of expectations, a lot of expectations I haven’t had my last three years here,” he told reporters after practice. “I’ve been flying under the radar, one of the guys coming in, is working hard every day. So to hear him say that, it meant a lot. But, at the same time, I’m still humble.”
Carter Jr. is expected to take more on his plate this upcoming season in comparison to ones previous. Even with what’ll be an expanded role and the duties that come alongside it, he’s more than ready for the chance.
“I definitely embrace it,” added. “I look at it as a challenge. I like looking at myself as somebody who never backs down from the challenge. So I’m just looking forward to showing everyone what I’m capable of.”
Smith also brought up the name of Luke Kuechly when heaping praise on the 26-year-old backer. And while a comparison to the future Hall-of-Famer is quite hefty to make at the moment, Carter Jr. learned a good bit of the game from his former teammate.
“Luke, he took a lot of shots, a lot of shots on plays. But he always made them,” Carter Jr. said with a smile.
He’ll look to follow in Luke’s footsteps as the leader of this Carolina defense for years to come, hopefully with that same smile and humility.
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