Carter says he could be ready by training camp Carter told Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran in April that he had not heard from the Patriots but he was "optimistic" that something would work out. "I could not have enjoyed that season any more than I did," Carter said of his year in New England. "I was working with guys who just love the game of football, the Patriots organization does things the right way, the city was awesome -- people wanted to know the players whether they were stars or not. It was such an amazing experience I'd love to experience it again." Pass rusher Carter just one vet coming off injury who may be a steal - NFL - CBSSports.com Now, a little more than a month before the start of training camp, Carter's hard work is paying off again. With the free-agent market largely already picked clean, Carter is nearing a return -- he vows to be ready by camp -- and he is one of a handful of players who may have fallen off the overall NFL radar, but who are being monitored closely by executives. "Overall, I feel great," Carter said between rehab sessions near his home in California. "As you know, this quad injury is something that is not too common; you always hear about ACLs or MCLs, but to have it pop off the bone like that, I was like, 'Damn, I must have been doing some big thangs out there,'" at which point Carter let out one of his Barry White-worthy deep chuckles. "But I had a follow-up last week and the doctors are pretty impressed with how I've come along, and as you know when it comes to rehab there's a certain timetable where you're supposed to be, and I've surpassed that. I'm ahead of the game and headed in the right direction. Even though I know this injury takes a long time, my goal has been to be back for training camp. That's my focus." Carter, the seventh overall pick in the 2001 draft, was having probably his best season since 2002. He was a perfect fit in Bill Belichick's defensive designs while toggling between the 3-4 and 4-3, a dynamic, hybrid edge presence, picking up 10 sacks in 14 starts, including four in one game, a Pats record. After years of struggling to find his way in Washington's changing schemes, and frankly being outright misused at times, to have his comeback season with New England cut short just before the playoffs was heartbreaking link "A few days after the injury I was like, 'I'm coming back, I'm not quite done yet'," he said. He's always been a quick healer, and has a strong background in martial arts and MMA, open to trying new ways to stay limber and strong. Now he's doing substantial work with resistance bands, working all around his quad and knee, having to hold certain positions for a set period of time. "From your quads to your glutes, everything's on fire, man!" Carter said, "but I tell you what, my legs are stronger than ever. The stuff you pick up in rehab, I always say, man, I wish I learned this a long time ago. I feel like I'm stronger now than ever." Teams can never have too many pass rushers, something Belichick knows all too well. His sage moves to pick up Carter and Anderson a year ago point to that (a while back Belichick was trying to lure former sack-ace Kevin Carter out of retirement as well), so there will be a market for Carter, who made $2.25 million last season including a $500,000 signing bonus. Many expect he will end up back with the Pats. "It would be great, it would be great," Carter said of a potential New England reunion. "But as you know it's a business as well. I'm just training my mind and body to prepare for another season, and hopefully a team will be interested in me and take a chance and I can go out and perform the best way I can. If it's New England, that would be awesome."