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Allen Park — Lions cornerback Alex Carter spent last year thinking of the possibilities.

“I watched the defense, and I was in the meetings,” he said of his rookie season. “And I kind of know where I fit in, so I just want to fit in and make sure that our defense is strong, our team is strong and that we can win some games.”

After spending his entire rookie season on injured reserve, Carter isn’t ready to make any proclamations, but he believes he’ll be able to help whenever he gets the opportunity.

“Health-wise I feel great,” said Carter, who suffered a lingering ankle injury before camp last year. “I’m very excited, very happy that I am healthy and that I can come back here and show these coaches what I’ve got.”

Had Carter been healthy, he might have had a chance to play with starter Rashean Mathis missing the final nine games. Instead, Nevin Lawson took over and played fairly well.

The 6-foot, 198-pound Carter certainly looks more like a typical outside cornerback than Lawson (5-9, 191). But at this point, Carter probably would need an injury or someone to struggle in order to contribute on defense this year — unless he’s sensational during camp.

Still, if Carter is as good as the Lions thought when they drafted him in the third round last year, cornerback might be the best position. Darius Slay was solid last season, and nickel cornerback Quandre Diggs had a good rookie season. Lawson is serviceable as a starter, and Carter, Johnson Bademosi and Darrin Walls provide depth.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell has tempered expectations for Carter, and considering he’s 21 years old, what happens this season surely won’t define his career. But, Carter plans to contribute.

“I expect a lot,” he said. “I’m out here giving it my all, getting better every single day, so I’m really trying to be the best that I can be. And I know that that’s going to be pretty good.”

In addition to feeling healthy, Carter said he doesn’t have any mental restrictions coming back from his injury. He still feels like a rookie, but after spending last year in the film room, he’s ahead of this year’s rookies.

Plus, the Lions didn’t draft any cornerbacks.

“We have a great group of guys and I feel like we can do some damage,” Carter said.

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/jkatzenstein

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