mike lafleur michael carter jets
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie fourth-round running back Michael Carter could become an integral part of the Jets’ ground game down the road.

Ryan Honey

The Jets don’t employ a clearcut lead dog in the backfield, which has prompted them to take a committee-based approach in regard to the run game.

It’s a committee that includes a promising rookie in Michael Carter — one would argue the Jets executed a steal with his draft selection back in May. New York chose him in the fourth round when it was believed by some the North Carolina product would be off the board in the third.

Carter hasn’t recorded eye-opening stats thus far, but it’s tough to do so when you’re part of a multi-back committee.

Regardless, the staff is still impressed by what Carter has been able to accomplish — offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur saw the young buck take a step forward against New England.

“It was really cool because in year one of a system, rookie or 10-year guy, you want to see a huge improvement from Week One to Week Two…so many of the veterans made such great strides in that second game. Sometimes you don’t expect that totally from rookies, you expect improvement, I thought [Michael Carter] had a huge improvement,” LaFleur told the media Thursday. “He didn’t play a ton in [the Week 1] game, I don’t remember the snap count with Carolina, but he obviously played quite a bit in New England.

“He’s such a mature kid, he comes out, his attitude is absolutely great so it’s not surprising. It was really nice to see a rookie in his second game just transition to the speed of the game, as well as I thought he did on Sunday.”

Carter carried the ball just four times for six yards in his NFL debut, a Week 1 loss to Carolina. That game, however, was followed by an 11-carry, 59-yard performance (5.4 yards per carry) against New England. He additionally caught two balls for 29 yards in Week 2 and assumed a notable role within the offense. Carter took part on 45% of the unit’s snaps in that defeat.

The first-year player is still in the developmental stages of his career. He sports the necessary speed, elusiveness, and versatility, however, to be a talented two-dimensional player.

“He’s smart. He’s got great vision. He’s been productive throughout his whole career,” LaFleur said of Carter. “Whether you go back to high school, obviously college, but also in our practices. He finds ways, when you think it’s blocked for two [yards], he finds ways to get it to five. Not because he’s barreling down on you, although he is a tough kid, but because he just finds those lanes and he has great vision.

“Again, I think part of it is, it’s kind of cheesy, but the kid just has an unbelievable attitude and when you literally, absolutely love what you do and you come out with a great attitude every single day, a lot of times good stuff is going to happen to you if you are talented in this league. I think he has kind of that combination of everything.”

Carter and the Jets have only faced good defenses thus far and have another daunting assignment in Week 3. The team will face a Broncos squad that’s allowing just 67.5 rushing yards per game.

That matchup kicks off Sunday at 4:05 p.m. ET in Denver. Will Carter take yet another step forward?

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