As a rookie, Lorenzo Carter is assigned the task of supplying snacks for the linebackers at Giants training camp. Dutifully, Carter obliged. Respectfully, his teammates rejected the offerings provided to them.
Carter purchased and presented honey buns, brownies and cheese puffs. The feedback was not positive.
“They didn’t like my cheese balls!’’ Carter said, sounding somewhat incredulous.
The linebackers put their orders in. Gushers. Sunflower seeds. Beef jerky.
“They have regular beef jerky but they want the teriyaki,’’ Carter said.
Consider this a lesson learned and a test Carter had to take, and pass, or else suffer the consequences.
The ride has gone more smoothly on the field, where he and another rookie, B.J. Hill, instantly emerged as factors on a Giants defense reshaped by new coordinator James Bettcher and revitalized through the draft.
Carter and Hill are third-round picks, taken three selections apart (Carter went 66th overall, Hill at No, 69). Hill in the spring and on into the summer lined up as one of the three starting defensive linemen. Carter has mostly run with the second team and is listed behind starter Olivier Vernon at weakside linebacker.
Do not allow that designation to fool you — the Giants are planning on Carter as a big piece of their pass-rush package.
Hill and Carter make their NFL preseason debuts Thursday night against the Browns at MetLIfe Stadium.
“I think I came in earlier this week a little more excited than everybody else in my room, but those are more experienced guys who’ve been there, done that,’’ Carter said. “I mean, I’m excited. It’s my first time to suit up in a Giants uniform.
“They told me ‘You should be excited, it’s your first game.’ I’m like, ‘Nobody else is excited? It’s just me?’ It was fun.’’
Now the real fun begins. These rookies get to hit someone other than their teammates. Figure the starting units will play in the first quarter, perhaps for a series or two, but some of the younger starting players — count Hill in this group — could get additional snaps after the older starters get pulled. Carter will receive plenty of time on the field.
Hill, from North Carolina State, does not smile as often as Carter, befitting his position as a rough interior lineman. “I love our defense,’’ Hill said. “I love the way we play. I love our style. I love just the violence of the way we’re going to play this year. I’m going to bring whatever I’ve got to the table, to each game. Pass rush, stopping the run all of it.’’
Asked if any of the young players stood out recently, Bettcher singled out Carter for two particularly solid days of practice after, he admitted, Carter “had some on and off days.’’
It is easy to see why the Giants are so taken with Carter, who was part of a Georgia defense that led the Bulldogs to the national championship game. At 6-foot-5 and 252 pounds, he is statuesque and, at 22 years old, has plenty of room and time to gain size and strength. He is learning everything he can from veteran Connor Barwin and believes he has already shown the coaching staff he can contribute right away.
“They brought me in for a reason,’’ Carter said. “Rush the passer, be a disruptive player and I’ve tried to show ‘em I can be disruptive, affect the passer in different ways.’’
He is aware of the franchise legacy of pass rushers and thinks he can be next in line. “That’s definitely the goal,’’ Carter said. “I want to be that guy. I want to be the player that makes plays and can help lead the defense and lead this team to a championship.’’
As for his first game, Carter wants to do everything. That includes playing at a breakneck pace on defense and making impact plays on special teams.
“We just get to play ball, just go in there and wreck stuff,’’ Carter said. “It doesn’t matter how pretty it is, just get the job done, try to knock people off the ball and go play.
“I want to play fast and keep playing fast. Play my assignments, don’t try to do too much. That’s when bad stuff starts happening for the team. Do my job. If you do your job in this defense, plays are gonna happen, plays are gonna come to you.’’
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