Miami Dolphins: Why sack star Andre Carter felt the call to coach

Andre Carter and defensive line coach Gary Emanuel of the San Francisco 49ers review plays during the NFL game in 2005. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Getty Images)

DAVIE — Andre Carter had 80.5 sacks in his NFL career, one fewer than Cameron Wake.

In fact, only 62 men in the history of pro football have ever sacked the quarterback more.

While Wake is still going at 35, Carter is enjoying his first season as an NFL assistant coach, assisting Miami Dolphins defensive line coach Terrell Williams this season.

“I’ve had coaches when I was playing say, ‘You’re going to be a coach one day,'” Carter said after a training camp practice this week. “So they actually saw it in me. Whether it was talking about the game from a technique standpoint or just being motivational to my colleagues when we were up or down. I love this game so much.”

And so there was Carter, on another day, walking off the field and seeing Wake conducting an interview.

“The Greek Adonis!” Carter shouted. “When I shut it down, I can tell you I did not look like that!”

Carter was the seventh pick in the 2001 draft, a speed rusher taken by the 49ers out of the University of California.

He played 13 seasons in the NFL, mostly defensive end and some linebacker, for the 49ers, Redskins, Raiders and Patriots.

And so while Carter is mostly remembered for his attacks on the quarterback, he says his role as an assistant defensive line coach extends beyond pass-rush specialist.

“It’s everything, starting with stopping the run,” Carter said. “Because you can’t rush the passer if you don’t stop the run. So technique-wise we’re going to be two-dimensional players. Rush the ball and get going. Create havoc. That’s our mentality as a defensive line.”

When Carter made the Pro Bowl as a Patriot in 2011, coach Bill Belichick specifically mentioned run stopping as an underrated strength of Carter’s.

“Smart guy,” Belichick told reporters then. “He understands football, concepts, can make adjustments quick, works hard.”

Carter is working with a well-paid group of Dolphins defensive linemen with high draft pedigree.

There are veterans like Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh.

“I tell you what one thing about Suh and Wake,” Carter said. “They have opened up their hearts and let the young rookie in.”

The rookie is first-rounder Charles Harris.

“He’s come around,” Carter said of Harris. “Training camp, every day is always a grind. Highs and lows. But at the end of the day you just have to continue to work.”

Carter has noticed Harris’ spin move.

“He’s got the spin,” Carter said with a smile. “I sucked at the spin. Honestly. I was just so good with my hands. I used what the opponent gave me. That was my go-to. I did Taekwondo as a kid. So the eye-hand coordinator was the key.”

What advice would he give any youngster about how to get to the quarterback more often?

“Get off,” Carter said. “Speed. And get off. If you have a great first two hard steps coming up the field you’re going to be all right. We’ll take care of the rest as we go.”

The potential of Wake and Harris, two players with extraordinarily quick first steps, attacking the quarterback from the far reaches of the Wide Nine defense edge, is frightening.

“My goodness,” Carter said. “It is scary. I tell you, (Andre) Branch has been working on his get-off, too. As a defensive line, you always want to have depth and mix and match your personnel.”

Carter, 38, takes coaching very seriously. He believes he can make a positive impact.

“I love it,” Carter said. “My aspirations of being a coach are I want to learn more about the Xs and Os. Why do we make these certain plays and why do we make these certain calls? And how do we get individuals to play and perform like you want? Playing the game for a long time, they always say coaching is in you or not in you. And that’s why I was so honored to be a part of the Miami Dolphins to be a part of their team.”

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