SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 12: Lorenzo Carter #59 of the New York Giants reacts after a play against the San Francisco 49ers during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on November 12, 2018 in Santa Clara, California.
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The 2020 season will be a pivotal one in the career of New York Giants third-year outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter.

Jason Leach

If all things go as planned, the New York Giants along with the rest of the NFL’s 32 teams will report to training camp at the end of next month. This will be the first time all offseason that teams will be on the practice field together.

The Giants head into camp under first-year head coach Joe Judge, who’ll look to build a winning culture within a franchise that’s gone 12-36 over the last three seasons. There are numerous players expected to help change the Giants’ fortunes, one of which is third-year outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter.

General manager Dave Gettleman selected the former University of Georgia linebacker in the third round of the 2018 draft (No. 66 overall). The athletic Carter appeared in 15 games with a pair of starts during his rookie campaign and finished that season with 43 combined tackles, seven tackles for loss, and four sacks.

After a solid first year, many showed excitement in regards to what Carter would do in his second, considering Big Blue traded then-starting edge rusher Olivier Vernon to the Cleveland Browns for right guard Kevin Zeitler.

Carter seemed ready for his expanded role coming into training camp last season, having added more muscle to his frame. Nonetheless, his production didn’t live up to expectations, similar to fellow 2018 draftee B.J Hill.

He appeared in 15 games with 12 starts, finishing the season with 45 total tackles, six tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks. His sack total was tied for second on the team behind Markus Golden (10). Then-rookie Oshane Ximines additionally notched 4.5 sacks.

When a player taken in the third round is entering his third season in the NFL, they’re often a lock to be a starter. But based on the aforementioned statistics, that isn’t the case with Carter. The outside linebacker spot will play host to one of the team’s most intriguing position battles this summer.

Just like he did last offseason, Gettleman signed a free-agent outside linebacker in Kyler Fackrell and drafted one in Carter Coughlin (No. 218 overall) this year. When a general manager acquires players at your position two years in a row, it would only be natural to question how much trust the organization carries in you.

But competition tends to bring out the best in a player. You can be sure that Carter will be highly motivated entering training camp to show that he deserves the starting role.

Some blame Carter’s lack of progression from year No. 1 to year No. 2 on former defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s scheme. The hope now is that Carter and the rest of this defense can flourish under new coordinator Patrick Graham. But for Graham’s scheme to work, the pass rush will need to improve from the last two seasons. Carter will certainly play a pivotal role in applying pressure to opposing quarterbacks.

Carter is under contract through the 2021 season, but if he’s going to be in the team’s long-term plans, he’ll need to break out this year. The former Georgia Bulldog is definitely a player to keep an eye on once training camp opens.

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