ALAMEDA (AP) — The Oakland Raiders made a move to bolster their struggling pass rush on Wednesday by signing proven defensive end Andre Carter to a free-agent contract.
The Raiders (1-2) had brought Carter in twice before for workouts in training camp and earlier this season before signing him to fill a glaring need.
"I think he'll be instrumental," said defensive tackle Richard Seymour, who was picked one spot ahead of Carter in the 2001 draft at sixth overall. "He's a proven guy in this league. Obviously, it will take some times to get his legs under him, but he's a guy that's shown he can rush the passer and I think that will be essential for us."
Carter has 76 sacks in 163 career games over 11 seasons in the NFL. He was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time last season after recording 10 sacks for the New England Patriots but his season was cut short by a quadriceps injury that forced him to miss the final two games of the regular season and the postseason.
Carter was credited with 51 quarterback pressures by Pro Football Focus in 14 games for the Patriots last season. He tied a New England record with four sacks in a game against the New York Jets on Nov. 13.
But because of the injury, Carter was still looking for a job this season.
"It's always tough," he said. "It definitely gives you a different perspective. Here I am trying to train hard and work hard and just get better, and as the season continued to progressed and watching Sunday football on the couch with my son ... I knew God had a plan and I just kept on continuing to be patient and in the end it worked out well."
Carter is trying to get up to speed with the playbook and his new teammates this week but said he'd be ready to play Sunday in Denver against Peyton Manning and the Broncos if he gets the call.
"If I wasn't ready then I wouldn't be here," he said.
Carter said on a scale of 1-to-10 that he was physically at 100, but acknowledged it would take some time to get into "football shape."
The Raiders are hoping it doesn't take long because they are in dire need of a proven pass rusher after having let Kamerion Wimbley go in the offseason in a cost-cutting move. Oakland has just three sacks this season — one ahead of last-place Jacksonville — as their lack of a speed rusher on the outside has hurt them.
"There were a few times where we had a little something going in the game last week, and (Ben) Roethlisberger does a good job of maneuvering in the pocket," coach Dennis Allen said before the team announced the move. "But, obviously, we got to try to do some things that get a little bit more pressure on the quarterback. As we go throughout the season, we're going to need that."
Carter also worked out for Arizona and St. Louis before signing with the Raiders. He has returned to his roots, having starred in high school in San Jose, playing college ball at California and spending his first seasons in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers.
Now after stops in Washington for five years and one year in New England, Carter is back home with the Bay Area's other team.
"I had a lot of friends who said you crossed over to the dark side," he said. "Everything comes full circle. Where I'm at in my career why not be back in the Bay Area where it all started for me."
The Raiders made room for Carter by releasing offensive lineman Joe Barksdale, a third-round pick out of LSU last year. Barksdale played all 16 games as a rookie last season backing up on the offensive line and playing on special teams. But he did not fit well with the team's new zone blocking system and was inactive for each of the first three games.
Barksdale is the latest member of the 2011 draft class to be cut from the team under general manager Reggie McKenzie's new regime. Oakland released third-round cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke earlier this month and fourth-round cornerback Chimdi Chekwa was demoted to practice squad.
The Raiders gave up a 2012 second-round pick to New England to draft Barksdale and fourth-round running back Taiwan Jones, who has played one offensive play all season.
The Patriots used that pick on safety Tavon Wilson, who has five solo tackles, one interception, two passes defensed and a fumble recovery this season.
NOTES: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey went through the concussion protocol Wednesday after being hospitalized last week following a helmet-to-helmet hit. Allen did not know when he would be able to return to practice. ... DT Richard Seymour (knee), T Khalif Barnes (groin) and CB Shawntae Spencer (right foot) also did not practice. ... TE Brandon Myers was back after leaving Sunday's game on the final drive with a concussion. ... The Raiders sign WR Tori Gurley to the practice squad. Gurley spent last season on the practice squad in Green Bay as an undrafted free agent out of South Carolina. He was on Minnesota's practice squad earlier this year.