ENGLEWOOD | Quinton Carter sees his misfortune as a blessing, not a bummer.
In his first public comments since getting hurt on July 27, the Denver Broncos’ second-year safety told The Associated Press on Monday that his popped right hamstring led doctors to discover he needed arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.
Carter said he hurt his knee in a game against New England on Dec. 18 but MRIs hid the injury until last month.
“I knew my knee was already hurting bad. The hamstring, I really want to say it was a blessing in disguise because if that didn’t happen, I wouldn’t have gotten the surgery on my knee and I would have been probably already out of camp with a more serious injury in my knee,” Carter said.
In his first appearance at camp since getting hurt, Carter watched practice from the sideline Monday. He said afterward that his rehab is going well and he hopes to be able to play in the third preseason game for the Broncos (No. 10 in the AP Pro32), against San Francisco on Aug. 26.
“I’m not sure how it’s going to go. That’s my clock in my head,” Carter said. “But you know I’ve been improving each day, so that’s the biggest thing.”
Carter said his knee never quit bothering him during the offseason — “it just got worse and worse” — but because medical tests couldn’t find any damage, he was just trying to play through the pain.
“I guess it was like the injury was hidden behind something, so you couldn’t tell,” Carter said. “But I could tell. Pain-wise, I could tell.”
Carter injured his right hamstring while trying to keep from running full speed into a soccer net at the Broncos’ indoor practice bubble while defending wide receiver Eric Decker on a deep pass.
“Well, they already knew about the knee. It was just a matter of playing through it,” Carter said. “So, once the hamstring happened, it was like, ‘OK, let’s go ahead (and take another look).’ I actually got an MRI on my knee again that same day and he was like, ‘We’ll let’s just go ahead and clean it up since you’ll be out a couple of weeks for the hamstring.’
“The doc said there was no way I would be able to play this season if I didn’t get it cleaned up,” Carter said.
He said the time off the football field has done wonders for both injuries.
“Maybe my hamstring was overcompensating for the knee injury and whatnot,” Carter said. “So, I mean, all in all, it’s a blessing. It truly is if you just look at the situation. I mean, it really brought the inevitable out with my knee.”
Carter said he’s confident his missed time at training camp won’t derail his hopes of holding on to his starting job and having a spectacular sophomore season in Denver’s star-studded secondary.
“I’ve got to come back from that injury and compete for a spot, but I’m anxious,” Carter said. “Of course, it’s a setback. But it’s a great setback. I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of learning. To come back without a limp or anything, I think it will help me out to be a better player.”
Notes: LB Keith Brooking left with a strained hamstring in just his second full-padded practice with the Broncos. … DT Ty Warren was excused from practice, and D.J. Williams returned from an excused absence over the weekend and got his first work in during the 11-on-11 drills. He worked with the second stringers. The Broncos have held him out of first-team work because Williams is facing a six-game drug suspension and also a DUI trial this week.
Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton
Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL