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Carter's Searching For a Permanent Role

The next time you watch such films as "In Too Deep" with Omar Epps and L.L. Cool J., or "Good Will Hunting" with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, look closely.

In the background, you may be able to spot, as one of the extras, an aspiring future actor who has a much more immediate goal this summer: to try to make the Redskins as a running back or special team contributor.

"Growing up in Toronto," says 6-2, 237-pound third-year NFL player Kerry Carter, "there were opportunities for small roles in film. The film industry is a big thing. I had small parts, non-speaking roles, in some films. 'In Too Deep' and 'Good Will Hunting' are the two you've probably heard about."

Carter explains that in the 1999 Epps film, he appeared in a barbeque scene at a party. In the 1997 Damon movie, he was in the pub the first time the character played by Damon met the character played by Minnie Driver.

Says Carter: "I can't say they were large roles. But having a chance to meet young actors like Matt Damon on his way up was a great experience."

Carter goes on to point that acting may be something he'd like to pursue at some distant time--but for the here and now his occupation and preoccupation involve trying to land an NFL job with the Redskins.

He knows the latter, short-time goal will be a most difficult one, adding: "It's tough. The Redskins have a lot of depth at the running back position. But I have to remain optimistic and try to improve as a runner each and every day."

Clinton Portis already has established a franchise record for most rushing yards in a season (1,516) and Ladell Betts has proven to be a valuable option whose skills as a kickoff returner were evident last year at Tampa Bay. Rock Cartwright has also proven to be a solid backup.

So, given all of that, the truth is that it will be very hard for any new running back to find a spot on the Redskins' roster this year. Best bet for a player such as Carter is to try to impress special teams coach Danny Smith as well as running backs coach Earnest Byner.

As of Thursday, when the team's 12th OTA (Organized Team Activity) session concluded at Redskin Park, Carter and two other young running backs were in the mix behind Portis, Betts and Cartwright.

Jonathan Combs is getting a second look with the Redskins, while Jesse Lumsden is trying to make the jump to the NFL following an exceptional career in Canadian intercollegiate football for McMaster University of Hamilton, Ontario. Lumsden and Carter, the two Canadians, have been just about inseparable around Redskins Park this offseason.

Carter made the Seahawks' roster as an undrafted free agent in 2003 and went on to play in 32 games for Seattle as a reserve running back and kick returner. During his time in the Pacific Northwest, Carter saw game action in playoff contests versus St. Louis and at Green Bay.

He was out of the NFL last year when the Seahawks made it to the Super Bowl. He sustained an ankle injury in 2005 in Seattle's next-to-last preseason game, against Kansas City. He rehabbed for two months and eventually was released by the Seahawks.

Part of his problem in the NFL, of course, is that he's been on teams that feature running backs the caliber of Shaun Alexander, a league MVP, and now Portis, a Redskins record-breaker.

"l feel like I learned a lot in Seattle and that I'm learning a great deal here from Earnest Byner, too," Carter maintains. "He's a great technician, and he demands that you do the little things correctly."

A native of Trinidad who moved with his family to Toronto at age 10, Carter went to Henry Carr High and in the 1997-98 scholastic season won the Henry Jerome Award at the nation's top student-athlete.

At Stanford, Carter once scored four TDs in a 2002 win over USC. As a Seahawk, he saw action at FedExField when the Redskins rallied to beat Seattle 27-20 on Week 10 of 2003.

A year ago, Carter published a collection of poetry. Further, he has a foundation called "Think Big" that is dedicated to helping youth in the arts, athletics and academics. In addition, Carter and former Stanford teammate Coy Wire, now a safety with the Buffalo Bills, are business partners in a line of apparel called "Most High Clothing."

The 25-year-old Carter has a lot going on, to be sure--movies and poetry, foundation work and business endeavors. Those are extracurricular undertakings, though, at the moment.

"My main focus has and always will be football," Carter emphasizes. "It's my job."

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