Cardinals’ Michael Carter glad for fresh start in a place he feels appreciated
Nov 17, 2023, 12:16 PM | Updated: 2:32 pm
TEMPE — General manager Monti Ossenfort and the Arizona Cardinals continue to unturn every stone, this time utilizing their high priority in the waiver claim department to nab former New York Jets running back Michael Carter on Tuesday.
In a surprising turn of events — for everyone not named Carter — the third-year back was released by the Jets this week after totaling just eight attempts for 38 yards in nine games. He also caught 15 catches (20 targets) for 68 yards.
Given what went on behind the scenes in New York, Carter is blessed to begin a new chapter of his football career.
“Just a chance to have a fresh start,” Carter said Thursday. “It’s somewhere I can feel appreciated. I feel like we all chase that and crave that.”
“This is probably the craziest three days, two days in my football career,” the RB added. “I’m very grateful to be here, though, extremely.”
At 5-foot-8, 201 pounds, the 2021 fourth-rounder brings another versatile back for head coach Jonathan Gannon and the new regime to work with.
Since entering the league, Carter has been used in both the run and pass game. Before his limited showing with the Jets in 2023, Carter had amassed 1,041 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground to go along with 77 catches on 109 targets for 613 yards.
But with Breece Hall returning to form from a torn ACL and the free-agent addition of Dalvin Cook, the opportunities just didn’t present themselves for Carter in New York.
“We like the skillset he brings and with the waiver claim priority we’re at, we’re always going to use that to our advantage,” Ossenfort told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke on Friday. “If there’s a player that comes available that we think can help us and have a role on the team, we’re going to be aggressive in doing that. … We wanted to take advantage of this opportunity with a guy who’s been productive in the league.
“We’ll get Michael in here and work with him. We’re excited to work with him. He’s got a tough running style, he’s instinctive, he’s quick, he’s got some shiftiness to him and he runs hard for a smaller back.”
In terms of suiting up this week, just five days removed from joining the franchise, that’s still very much up in the air.
#AZCardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon talks new addition and dual-threat RB Michael Carter:
"He's picking it up as best as he can. We'll get him out there today and see where it goes."
— Arizona Sports (@AZSports) November 17, 2023
Carter was a nonparticipant a day prior due to rest, though practiced fully on Friday.
And while he’s still getting up to speed playbook-wise, Carter feels he can make an impact right away if given the chance.
“As soon as possible,” Carter said. “I’ll leave that to coach if I play this week … but I’m ready. I played every game this year, I played every game last year and pretty much every game the year before. It’s not like I just stopped playing football. (Wednesday) was first day not practicing my whole life probably.”
Despite getting to town late Wednesday night, new #AZCardinals RB Michael Carter is ready to contribute "as soon as possible."
"I'm going to leave that to coach if I play this week … but I'm ready."
— Arizona Sports (@AZSports) November 16, 2023
“I feel like a back that can do it all,” he added. “I can run the ball and I can catch out the backfield and out wide. Also, I can (pass protect), too. I think from an on-the-field perspective, I’m seeking that explosive play and trying to go make plays and help us win. Everything I do is pretty much trying to help us win, because I love the game. I’m very competitive and a lot of guys in the locker room can relate to that. That’s why I’m so excited to get going.”
Outside of a couple new teammates Carter faced in college or in the pros, there’s not many faces the running back recognizes in the locker room.
That’s not to say he’s already seeing some trends, especially when it comes to the RBs room.
“It seems like a really close group and I think that starts with coach,” Carter said. “He leads a strong group. Ever since I started talking to the guys, it’s been nothing but love.
“Some rooms in the league — it wasn’t like this in New York — but I have friends that have been in the league where it’s not like that. It’s just 100% mean mugs and, ‘I don’t rock with you, I’m not helping you do anything.’ I don’t think it’s like that here and that’s something I can appreciate, because that’s what it was like in New York.”
New #AZCardinals running back Michael Carter is already feeling the love from his fellow RBs in the room:
"It feels like a really close group. … Ever since I just started talking to the guys, it's been nothing but love." pic.twitter.com/l8gNZFlzR5
— Tyler Drake (@Tdrake4sports) November 16, 2023
As for his new QB?
“He’s so detail orientated,” Carter said of quarterback Kyler Murray. “From what everybody says — I can’t wait to get to know him more along with the rest of the guys — he’s competitive as (expletive) and I relate to that.
“I love the way he practices. I was talking to (Hollywood Brown), you can definitely tell when somebody wants to get better with every rep.”