The 6-foot-4 Central Arkansas product said Saturday that he's up to 275 pounds, and it looks like sturdy, healthy weight. That's a far cry from where he's been in recent years.
As a senior, Carter said he was at 250 pounds. He got up to the 255-260 range during the pre-draft process and increased his weight to 265 pounds during his rookie season in 2011.
"I've gained a few pounds," Carter laughed. "I've gained some explosiveness, and just a lot of work in the weight room was my main focus this offseason."
Carter was in the good graces of the Patriots' coaches last season, earning at least two pay raises while remaining on the practice squad throughout the year. He's considered a hard worker with a good on-field motor, but he needed to boost his weight and playing acumen to get an opportunity on game day.
The 22-year-old said it was important to add productive weight throughout that process, and he credited the boost to an intense workout regimen, proper intake of nutritional supplements and a diet of four or five peanut butter and banana sandwiches per day — his father's recommendation.
"That's the big thing," Carter said. "Not just putting on the weight, but make sure it's the weight that helps you function best for your position."
Carter was one of six veterans who participated in the Patriots' rookie camp this weekend, and he said it was a great opportunity to get the extra experience, especially since he wasn't able to run through the rookie camp last year due to the lockout.
Carter has always come across as a mature person, but he said he has developed his professionalism, too, which goes hand-in-hand with the gain in weight.
"I'm more organized," Carter said. "I'm more of a professional now. I understand my role. I understand what I have to do to achieve that role, and that's mainly my focus. Right now, the only thing I should be focused on is football and recovery, and that's my direction in life right now."
If all goes according to plan, Carter may be able to translate the pass-rushing skills from college to the pro level. He had 16.5 sacks and 143 tackles in his collegiate career, and he added 19 tackles for loss as a senior.
The Patriots' depth chart at defensive end is still up in the air for 2012, so it's still not clear how much of a role Carter could earn. Mark Anderson departed for the Bills, and Andre Carter is still nursing a torn quad, although he could return if he's healthy. Veteran free agents Jonathan Fanene and Trevor Scott could earn starting-caliber snaps, while first-round pick Chandler Jones and third-rounder Jake Bequette will also contend for serious playing time. Markell Carter and Brandon Deaderick are among the younger players who will also fight for their chance.
Carter has taken the necessary steps to give himself that opportunity, and he's also learning how to play with the added weight by working out and running with extra band resistance. He said his explosion and lateral quickness are up to speed, and he's added more power to his punch. With all of that in mind, Carter's growth during his first year as a pro should translate to a more successful second season.
"I learned the Patriots way, how to handle myself with this whole new situation that I'm kind of being thrown into," Carter said. "Having that time on the practice squad, it gave me a lot of time to develop, a lot of time to find out who I was as a football player and even as a man myself, just being on my own."
Photo via Facebook/Luke Hughes