Cleveland Browns: Just who the heck is Tank Carder?

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 03: David Fales /

The Cleveland Browns may not field a middle linebacker often this fall, but when they do it may be veteran Tank Carder who answers the call.

The Cleveland Browns will open the 2017 NFL season with presumably a much better chance at fielding a competitive defense.

A big part of that assumption comes with the arrival of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who brings with him a defensive system that has proven successful across the league, unlike whatever it was that former defensive coordinator Ray Horton was putting on the field in 2016.

The other part is the influx of talent, most notably first-round selections Myles Garrett and Jabrill Peppers, along with the continued growth of Danny Shelton and Christian Kirskey. Having Jamie Collins for a full 16 games is also a check in the plus column.

A notable change on the defense comes from Williams’ preference to use four down linemen with five players in the secondary, leaving just two spots for the linebackers, which the majority of the time will be Collins and Kirksey. But there will be times when the Browns employ three linebackers on the field at the same time, which is where Tank Carder comes in.

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Wait, who?

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Carder was originally drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He was released by the Bills at the end of training camp that summer, and the Browns swooped in to claim him.

Since then he has appeared in 78 games for the Browns, primarily on special teams, but has made two starts, the last one coming in 2013.

Carder has been around so long – only Joe Thomas, Joe Haden and John Greco have been in Cleveland longer – that he has played for five head coaches and is on his fourth defensive coordinator.

Now, with Demario Davis, last year’s starter, in New York with the Jets, Carder is being touted as an option for when the Browns need a middle linebacker, linebackers coach Blake Williams told

"“He is a savvy vet who has been in a bunch of different systems in the NFL. He’s just a savvy vet who has been around the league a long time and knows things – knows things about the offense, knows things about defense and can kind of drive the ship out there and is doing a good job at that.”"

Carder is the type of player that is instantly disliked by a certain segment of Browns fans because he is not athletic or flashy. But he is exactly the type of player that teams need because he hits all four traits the coaches look for: he is dependable, reliable, accountable and available.

Whether or not that is enough to earn meaningful playing time with the defense will be revealed soon enough during training camp and the preseason. And while it can be a bit risky to read too deep into a coach’s comments during the offseason, when the team’s official website is promoting someone, it is worth at least a second glance.

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Carder will make the final roster because of his special teams play. Whether or not he can answer the call at middle linebacker remains to be seen.