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Michael Carter II on 2024: 'I Need to Capitalize on My Opportunities to Change Games'

Jets Nickel Received Votes for All-Pro Slot Cornerback in 2023 Season


Last March, Jets nickel CB Michael Carter II challenged himself on social media to be the best nickel in the NFL in 2023-24. After finishing the season with a single first-place vote for The Associated Press First Team All-Pro slot cornerback spot, Carter II said he got a step nearer to that goal, but still has way to go before checking that box.

"I definitely feel like I got closer this year," Carter II said. "I said before the season I wanted to be the best and I feel like I put something like that on tape. I am happy with how I played individually and still got a lot of room to grow and elevate."

The mark of a good cornerback in the NFL is that they often go mostly untested. That was the case for Carter II in 2023. This season, opponents targeted him 62 times for 32 completions and 299 yards, all career-lows. He surrendered a lone receiving TD over 472 coverage snaps (0.6 yards allowed per coverage snaps) and tied a career-high with 9 pass defenses in 15 games.

"From a coverage standpoint, I was sticky all-around," Carter II said. "In the run game I was a good tackler and was asked to do that as well. And all around from a nickel, I feel like I had a complete season for me. I said I wanted to be the best and to do all that, I feel like you have to do all sorts of things and I felt like I did that."

Pro Football Focus thought highly of Carter II, a fifth-round selection (No. 154) by the Jets in 2021, as well. He received an 80.4 defense grade which ranked second among nickels, trailing only Kansas City's Trent McDuffie (84.5) – the AP's First Team All-Pro selection.

"I thought I was a cerebral player this year," Carter II. "Depending on the play call, I look at formations, where the RB or third WR are and finding my keys. I am trying to see if I can recognize anything from tape and alert everyone else of what is going on. I have to make sure I am in the right spot, especially if we are disguising something. Can't get to low and get caught being late on something."

To that next step, Carter II said he needs to force more turnovers. The third-year CB registered a forced fumble this and did not record an interception.

"I need to capitalize on opportunities to change games," he said. "I got my hands on a lot of footballs this year but didn't have any picks. Almost had picks against Cleveland, Kansas City or Houston that didn't count. Making those plays is the next step and that goes for the whole back end. You can see we create turnovers as a defense, but we need to capitalize on every opportunity. When that happens, it is going to be special."

Carter plans to begin his prep for the 2024 season soon. But before he heads back to iron paradise and the practice fields, he will spend some time away.

"For me I need to get some rest. 18 weeks is a long season," he said. "I am going to spend some time with family reconnecting. Then ultimately, I am going to get my body back together and get my balance and mobility and those things aligned before really starting to lift and run again.

"I am looking forward to this offseason, getting stronger and getting better at my craft. Then coming back, getting more precise and working together with my brothers and doing what we came here to do."

Take a look through some of the best photos throughout the Jets 2023 season.

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