If the 2022 CFL season hasn’t been filled with enough excitement and controversy for your liking, be careful what you wish for. Duron Carter has just entered the chat.
The divisive former all-star receiver turned defensive back emerged from a two-year CFL hiatus to sign with the Edmonton Elks this offseason but has been on the shelf since suffering a broken foot in training camp. Now cleared by doctors, Carter will finally make his debut on Friday.
“Man, I’m like a kid on Christmas Eve,” the outspoken playmaker told 630 CHED’s Reid Wilkins earlier this week. “I can’t wait for the day to come.”
Carter is currently listed as the Elks’ backup safety, but head coach Chris Jones has promised to employ him in a multitude of ways come game day. For a player who has always been a threat to score from whatever spot he lines up in, that’s an exciting prospect.
“It’s going to be a show. I always go out there and try and do something that nobody’s seen before. That’s my goal,” Carter said.”I always think I’m a one-of-a-kind player and so I’m always out there trying to do something special. When we do get our way this weekend and we start piling them up hopefully people can recognize that and we can get people back in those seats.”
Carter was twice named a CFL all-star at receiver before first practicing at defensive back with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2017. He started five games at cornerback the following year — recording 11 tackles and one interception — and has also been an effective return specialist, returning a missed field goal for a touchdown with Montreal in 2014.
While he is unlikely to be used on offence against Winnipeg, Carter expects to make an immediate impact on the other two phases of the game. Having not played in the team’s first six games, getting into shape for that workload was a monumental task.
“Coach Jones has handled that for me and he’s made me take as many reps as possible. He’s out there running me back and forth during practice, going returning balls, back to DB, back to safety. He’s had me all over the field working on my conditioning and trying to get into game shape,” Carter laughed.
“You never really know how good a shape you are in until you actually get in the game and I know there’s gonna be a whole lot of adrenaline going on for my first game coming back. I just want to be able to hopefully maintain that and use it to create a big play.”
While recovering from injury has been difficult for Carter, in some ways the experience has been a net positive. He’s now much more comfortable with the defensive playbook and believes he has grown into a leadership role in the Elks’ young locker room.
That’s not something he could have claimed during his previous tenures in Montreal, Toronto, Saskatchewan or B.C. In some ways, fans should anticipate a much different Duron Carter on the field as well — just as explosive but far more disciplined.
“Coach B.I. [Brandon Isaacs], he always tells me that I can’t make every play. I always want to go out there, I always want to make a special play but he says I’ve got to let the game come to me,” Carter explained.
“I’m learning how to make maintain my activeness and my energy on the field but always letting the game come to me. Knowing that I’m always playing my responsibility and not jumping route as much and always playing the technique. I still have a long way to go and I get better with every rep. It’s like I get to play football all over again, it’s very fun.”