CLEVELAND — A month ago, DeAndre Carter was sitting at home hoping he’d get to continue chasing his dream.
Now, he might actually make the Eagles’ roster.
Thanks to plenty of injuries in the receiver room, the 25-year-old journeyman got first-team snaps in the slot Thursday night and made the most of them. He was one of the few offensive bright spots in the Eagles’ 5-0 loss at FirstEnergy Stadium (see breakdown).
On a night when the Eagles’ offense failed to put up any points, Carter (5-foot-8, 190 pounds) caught four passes for 73 yards, including a huge 29-yard catch down the sideline on 3rd-and-8 in the second quarter.
Where was he a month ago?
“A month ago?” Carter said smiling. “Home … training.”
It’s been a remarkable few weeks.
Before signing with the Eagles, Carter had been with the 49ers but was released on May 15. He was back in San Jose trying to stay in shape when the Eagles called. He worked out for them and was signed a couple days later. Another chance.
And after less than a month, Carter is making a serious push to make the Eagles’ 53-man roster as their sixth receiver. That seems incredible, especially because after going undrafted out of Sacramento State, Carter has been signed and cut six times in four years.
Since he left college in 2015, Carter has never played in a regular-season NFL game. He has never even been on a 53-man roster.
He got a little closer to achieving that goal on this night.
“Any opportunity you get is a blessing from God and you have to go out and take full advantage of it,” Carter said. “Gotta let it all hang out. Never know, it might be the last opportunity you get so you gotta try to make the most of it.”
For anyone who has watched training camp this summer, Carter’s rise on the depth chart shouldn’t be surprising. He made plays every day at the NovaCare Complex; now he’s just making them in games.
He called his extended reps Thursday night “a big vote of confidence” from the coaching staff. But he’s earned it.
“I think DeAndre played really well,” Nick Foles said. “He’s played well throughout the preseason, for a guy who is newer to the team. I think he does a lot of great things. He has a wide range to catch from, he uses his hands well, runs well and I’ve been really impressed with how he’s played.”
Shortly after he signed with the Eagles this summer, Carter shared his story with NBC Sports Philadelphia. Carter said he continues to chase his NFL dream because of a promise he made to his younger brother on his deathbed (see story).
“It was both of our dreams to play in the NFL, be successful in the NFL,” Carter said in July after his second training camp practice, which ended with him catching a touchdown in the back of the end zone. “And on his deathbed, I promised him that I would do that for both of us. I’m going to keep going until I make that happen.”
This means a ton to Carter and he’s certainly been playing like it.
In addition to some first-team reps with the offense thanks to injuries, Carter also got the first chance to return punts against the Browns. It’s something he did plenty in college. While that will be Darren Sproles’ job in the season, Carter did get a nice return of 29 yards.
Carter said he caught up learning the playbook with extra studying along with help from receivers coach Gunter Brewer and Nelson Agholor.
“A lot of extra time, a lot of extra effort,” Carter said, “but that’s what it takes to be in the league.”
It still seems like a long shot, but this time it might actually happen.