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Jalen Carter explains what he's been working on most entering Year 2

Jalen Carter is back for Year 2 in the NFL and explained what he's been focusing on this offseason.

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While his production dropped off in the second half of 2023, Jalen Carter still had an extremely encouraging rookie season.

And he’s working on getting even better for Year 2.

What has been on the top of his list? Making sure he’s in the best possible shape he can be for the 2024 season.

“It’s been a lot on conditioning,” Carter said at OTAs this week. “Really, I’d like to be more conditioned than working on technique because we got all year for technique stuff. We work on technique everyday in practice with our hands, working on pass rushes and stuff like that. 

“But you really don’t work on conditioning a lot. But I did more conditioning than I did hand movement and some of the stuff like that.”

As a rookie, Carter played in 16 games and played 563 snaps. But with the retirement of Fletcher Cox this offseason, Carter will probably have to play even more in his second NFL season. Cox led the Eagles’ defensive tackles with 684 snaps in 15 games. 

Carter averaged 35.8 snaps per game in 2023, while Cox averaged 45.6. That means it’s fair to expect a jump in playing time for Carter coming up and he’s working to be ready for it.

After Cox’s retirement, the Eagles also don’t have any defensive tackle over the age of 25. So they’re going to miss Cox’s veteran leadership. But Cox is still just a call away if Carter needs any advice.

“I know Fletch is still going to stick around,” Carter said. “He’s going to come talk to us anytime we need something, even if he’s not here. If I need to text him or call him, I know he’s going to answer.”

While Carter finished second in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting, he was an overwhelming favorite early in the season before Carter and the entire defense dropped off. 

Carter in his first eight games had 4 sacks, 7 QB hits, 5 tackles for loss and 2 forced fumbles. In the next eight games, he had 2 sacks, 2 QB hits, 3 TFLs and 0 FFs.

“My first year was OK,” Carter said. “It wasn’t how I wanted it to end. A lot of stuff that I seen on film is stuff I need to fix. It’s OK. We here now and I’m ready to be better than last year.”

In his second NFL season, Carter will have a new defensive coordinator in Vic Fangio and a new defensive line coach in Clint Hurtt.

While there have been plenty of reports about Fangio not getting along with some Dolphins players in 2023, Carter likes the 65-year-old veteran’s approach.

“I love Vic, man,” Carter said. “Old school. He’s fun to talk to. He’s a good coach. I heard a lot of good news about him because I was in Miami working out. So I had a couple Miami players out there and I was talking about them. So I heard a lot of good news. They were saying a lot of good stuff.”

Carter said his time at Apopka High School in Florida prepared him for the old-school coaching approach. He responds well to it.

And even though the Seahawks passed on Carter with the No. 5 pick last year (they took cornerback Devon Witherspoon), Carter got a chance to meet Hurtt during his 30 visit to Seattle. So they already had a bond before Hurtt took the job under Fangio in Philly.

During his press conference after the second day of OTAs, Carter said he spent time this offseason watching his film and coming up with things to improve for his next season. He didn’t get into too many specifics but he clearly sees room for growth. And based on some of the fantastic glimpses we saw in his rookie season, that’s pretty exciting.

Does he have any personal goals in mind for 2024?

“I wouldn’t say right now,” Carter said. “I’m just going with the flow right now. Just trying to stay conditioned and stuff like that. Goals are coming soon.”

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