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The case for DeAndre Carter to make his first Pro Bowl

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DeAndre Carter's journey through the NFL has been more tumultuous than most. He's been cut seven times in his career, and he spent a brief period as a substitute teacher teaching math, history and english to make ends meet.

The seas have calmed quite a bit since he landed with the Washington Football Team, though, and the seven-year pro has quietly put together a case for a Pro Bowl season.

"I just think he's a really good ball player," Taylor Heinicke said of Carter. "He knows what to do. He's a professional. I had a lot of reps with him during OTAs and training camp as well. So, we've had a good connection throughout the summer and the offseason."

Carter was not the most well-known player among Washington fans before the season, but make no mistake: he's become a key piece of Washington's offense and special teams with career-high numbers.

"I think DeAndre Carter has been a pleasant surprise," said head coach Ron Rivera.

Carter was signed because of his veteran expertise as a return specialist. He's absolutely done that with 23 kickoff returns with six punt returns. His 585 kickoff return yards leads the NFL, and he's one of four players in the NFL to return a kickoff for a touchdown. His average nose of 25.4 yards per return is also the most among return specialists with at least 20 returns.

There are only three players this season who have returned a kick for at least 100 yards. Carter is one of them, as his 101-yard return for a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons. Carter's first touchdown of his career was also Washington's first kickoff return for a touchdown since November of 2019 and tied Brian Mitchell and Rashad Ross for the longest in franchise history.

Carter was also named the NFC's Special Teams Players of the Week for his efforts.

"Great effort," Carter said of his teammates after the win. "Everybody was pretty much covered up."

Washington wasn't necessarily expecting Carter to be a heavy contributor on offense, but with receivers nursing injuries throughout the season, he has more than adequately filled that role. Terry McLaurin is still the team's top threat, but no one has made the most of his receptions on the roster than Carter. He leads the team with 16.4 yards per catch, and five of his 12 receptions has resulted in gains of at least 20 yards. McLaurin is the only player on the team with more of such receptions.

"DeAndre is a very serious professional," said offensive coordinator Scott Turner. "He's mostly a guy that plays inside, but he can play outside as well. He's quick and he's strong and we trust him to go make the plays."

Carter went his entire career without scoring a touchdown prior to joining Washington. He's scored three through nine games, the most-recent being his 20-yarder against the Tampa Buccaneers that made the score 13-0 in Washington's favor.

And Rivera believes there's still room to grow for Carter.

"A guy that's dynamic with the ball in his hands, you just can't focus all your energies on one guy right now and that's what he's helping us with."

Regardless, what Carter has shown thus far has been nothing short of exceptional. So show some love for Carter and vote him to his first Pro Bowl. He's more than deserving.

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