It may be his third season in the NFL, but Alex Carter feels somewhat like a rookie again with a chance at a fresh start.
The former third-round pick by the Lions in 2015 has made the switch from cornerback to safety this offseason.
The Lions approached Carter about the move right after last season, a year in which Carter spent all but the last three games (including the playoffs) on the practice squad. His rookie year was lost to an ankle injury.
"I feel like I'm rangy," Carter said after Wednesday's open OTA practice. "I can run, I can cover a lot of ground on the field, and I like to hit, so, I feel like once we get the pads on, it'll be a lot of fun."
Carter checks in a 6-foot, 200 pounds, and appears to have put on more muscle this offseason. Even cornerback Darius Slay made a joke about Carter's physique when he was asked about Carter's move to safety.
"You saw him without his shirt, he's kind of ripped up now," Slay said. "He's super big, like an action figure."
The one huge advantage Carter has in this process is that fellow safety and veteran Glover Quin went through the exact same switch from corner to safety – also in his third season in the league – and can be a terrific resource for Carter.
"I watch a lot of tape of safeties around the league," Carter said. "Mainly watching tape of Glover. Seeing how he plays. His movement and the kinds of plays he makes. The way he kind of takes control of a defense. Makes the calls and gets everyone in the right spot and knows where to be and knows how to anticipate things coming."
Carter even hopes to work out with Quin in Houston this summer before the start of training camp.
View photos from Day 5 of Detroit Lions OTA practices.
There's certainly a learning curve Carter will have to navigate through making a position switch at this level, but this is a fresh start for Carter, who was buried in the cornerback depth chart with little hope of cracking the 53-man roster there.
The Lions kept five safeties on the 53-man roster out of camp last season. They return four of those players – Quin, Tavon Wilson, Miles Killebrew and Don Carey. Carter will hope to push Carey for the fourth spot or latch on as the fifth safety if the Lions do in fact keep five heading into Week 1 for a second straight year.
"I feel like the skills that I do have translate pretty well and I can make some things happen," Carter said.
Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said Carter is still adjusting to the position change, but there have been signs the move could be beneficial to both parties.
"We do think that obviously he has speed," Caldwell said. "He has size and thus far I think he's adapting.
"We'll see in the long run, but we just think that he has the bulk, the size and those kinds of things that are conducive to playing that spot. I think he's adapting and learning it."