Veteran wideout DeAndre Carter signed with Washington back at the start of April, just after the club added targets Curtis Samuel and Adam Humphries and just before it grabbed Dyami Brown in the draft. Due to the timing of the move and who else joined him on the depth chart, not much was expected of Carter in Burgundy and Gold.
But then training camp began — and so did his rise.
While Carter is by no means a lock yet to survive cuts, he has absolutely inserted himself into the conversation, thanks to both his special teams background as well as his surprising contributions on offense. Ron Rivera praised Carter's efforts in Richmond, Va., and his promising performance has continued in the team's return to its home in Ashburn, Va.
So, because he's suddenly relevant in one of camp's most heated battles, now feels like the right time to get to know him a little better. This story should help you do exactly that, thanks to these three facts about him.
He grew up paying close attention to Washington
Carter is from California, but the first time he ever played football, he did so on a squad that went by Washington's former nickname. Therefore, he tracked the franchise's progress growing up, and a few of its mid-2000s stars made quite the impact on him.
Three of his favorites, as he told reporters, were Clinton Portis, Sean Taylor and Santana Moss (anyone who likes that trio is a quality person, something that numerous scientific studies have backed up). One, in particular, stood out, though.
"Santana Moss is one of my favorite players of all time," Carter said. "Obviously, I'm shorter. He's not the biggest guy, either. And he was able to play inside, play outside, go up top, run short routes. He had a complete game. He had a phenomenal career."
Carter hasn't run into Moss yet since his tenure with Washington began, but if he makes it into September and the regular season, perhaps that'll change.
He understands the importance of his return abilities
As mentioned, Carter has reeled in a handful of notable catches in camp. However, in 43 pro contests, he has just 34 career receptions. It's on specials — where he's returned 63 punts and 45 kickoffs — where he's made more of his mark in the league.
Carter knows that for him to resonate with Rivera, he'll have to give Washington a boost in that aspect.
"That's one of the roles I'm gonna have to try and win and try to fill," he said. "It's very important."
As for how Carter intends to go about doing that, he laid out a couple of keys.
"I think you've got to be fearless back there, you've got to take some chances," Carter said. "Ball security, obviously. Ball security is job security. Then you've got to be able to make big plays, make explosive plays and be exciting. That's one of the plays that drastically changes the momentum of this game."
For a guy like him who's pushing and shoving in a crowded group of receivers, making one or two splashes as a returner might be enough to vault him past his peers.
He has an opinion on what separates bad NFL operations from good ones
Carter was undrafted in 2015, and since then, he's bounced around from Baltimore to New England to San Francisco to Philadelphia to Houston to Chicago and now Washington.
All that traveling means he possesses a firm idea of what makes teams run smoothly, and he shared his stance on Thursday.
"Every organization does things in different ways, no one has it down to an exact science. But I think, honestly, it comes down to getting the right people in the building. If you get an organization built around good people, everybody's here on the same page, everybody's trying to win, everybody has the same goal, I think that's when you start to see wins and long-term success."
As for his stint with the Patriots, while it was brief, it was important for his development.
"It was a great experience," he said. "That's an organization that, I would say, is a great place to go for a young guy that's learning to be a pro. They held you to a high standard over there, they work extremely hard and the demand for excellence is an everyday thing in everything that you do."