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Going the Distance with DeAndre Carter
"I'm trying to make a play out there. I'm trying to be exciting and explosive for our team and the crowd. Big returns are definitely big momentum shifts in the game for your team."
By Hayley Elwood Aug 24, 2022

With training camp here, we're checking in with Chargers players ahead of the 2022 season:

Our series continues this week with DeAndre Carter.

Carter was signed to the Chargers in April as a returner, but if you spent any time at training camp, you probably saw him score touchdowns on offense.

Here's more from No. 82 on his skills as a returner, the freedom this offense presents, his former stint as a substitute teacher, and more.

First camp with the Chargers is coming to an end, how did it go?

Carter: It went well. We're bringing it to a close to get ready for the last preseason game before the regular season, but it went pretty well. Just establishing timing, getting the fundamentals and basics down to get ready for the season.

You had multiple touchdowns in camp and when head coach Brandon Staley was asked about it he said it's 'not an accident, guys like throwing to [you].'

How were you able to catch on so quickly?

Carter: I'm kind of a football-junkie-guy, so picking up the system wasn't too hard.

And then after that, it's just relying on your fundamentals, making sure you're 'quarterback friendly,' finding the holes in the defense.

'Football-junkie?' Are you watching film all the time? What do you mean by that?

Carter: Yeah, I'm a heavy film guy. Watching football on TV, college, high school, NFL. I'm a big statistician-type.

Doesn't matter what's on, you'll watch it?

Carter: For the most part, yeah.

You mentioned it, but it was Justin Herbert who called you 'friendly to the QBs.'

Where did that come from?

Carter: It's a wide receiving fundamental [of] breaking in or breaking out. If you've got a route that's going back to the quarterback, [you're] kind of shaving and coming downhill so you don't get undercut.

It's kind of like protecting the throw.

You've said you like this offense because it 'has a lot of freedom.'

What do you mean by that?

Carter: [Offensive coordinator Joe] Lombardi and our receivers coach [Chris] Beatty give us in the receivers room a lot of freedom to win our routes the best way that we see fit – within the offense and within the scheme [within reason.]

But they kind of allow us to utilize our strengths individually. I'm a quicker guy, Mike W [Williams] is a bigger, stronger guy. They allow us to use our own individual freedom and creativity to get open with different routes and I like that you kind of get to do your own thing.

What's it been like getting out in the preseason as part of the offense?

Carter: It was good. It's always different getting out there in a game as opposed to practice, getting the whole operation, hearing the call from the quarterback, getting in and out of personnel on the sideline. Good to get into the flow of those things and into the regular season.

I enjoyed it and it was my first time playing at SoFi so getting experience and getting used to that stadium and where the clocks are, it was good to get out there.

What'd you think of it?

Carter: I loved it. Great experience. It's a dope stadium.

Where did your returning prowess come from?

Carter: I think it kind of was just put on me. I'm a shorter guy, quick, fast, so that's typically what you see from returners. I've been doing it since I was in Pop Warner so it's kind of just natural to me.

What's your approach when you're standing back there?

Carter: Be aggressive. I'm not very high on fair catching within reason, but I'm trying to make a play out there. I'm trying to be exciting and explosive for our team and the crowd. Big returns are definitely big momentum shifts in the game for your team. I'm trying to make plays for our team so I can have an effect on the game as well.

What makes a good returner?

Carter: Taking care of the ball, first of all. And then, a guy who is a threat to go the distance every time he gets his hands on the ball. And then when you get that opportunity or your guys block it up well, you've gotta make it count and go the distance.

This is your ninth team, what sets this squad apart from other teams you've been on?

Carter: First of all, I would say the closeness that we have in the locker room.

Even already?

Carter: Already. We have a lot of new guys and new faces, but you can tell it's a real brotherhood and bond in the locker room. You don't necessarily experience that everywhere you go in the league.

And then, we work really hard and we're a really hard-working bunch. We've got a good mix of new guys and guys who have been here that can show newer guys the ropes; veteran leadership. We've got a good mix of new guys and old guys to be able to co-mingle and set that apart.

I know you spent time as a substitute teacher. What subjects and grades did you sub?

Carter: I subbed history, English, and science [in grades] seventh and eighth. I did history the most because we had a teacher who was on maternity leave, so I had her class for two months, which is pretty long.

Did you like it?

Carter: I loved it. It was an unique experience just because the school that I was at, I got lucky because one of the head counselors was someone who trained and coached me growing up. It was like a mentor to me.

It was in a rough neighborhood, but [I was] somebody they could come talk to about different problems, whether it be at school or at home. That's probably what I enjoyed the most.

But I love those kids. They teach you a lot, too, as well as you teaching them.

What's harder, navigating a kickoff or subbing a science class?

Carter: I will say, it's a different approach! I was in school and I was a kid once and gave a sub a hard time, but with the kids knowing my job and profession, they kind of took to what I was saying and didn't give me too much of a hard time.

That's been one of my favorite things abut our job in the league, you get a room full of kids or you go speak to kids, most of the time they're all ears because they're so excited about the level we've been able to get to and they're trying to get to.

The influence we have is the favorite part of my job.

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