Shaun White and former Panthers players give encouragement to his injury-addled cousin, Patrick Carter

The former Carolina Panthers cornerback was sidelined by a torn Achilles tendon early in the first quarter. His injury came during what many viewed as a triumphant return to the sport after a 16-game suspension last season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Carter revealed that he underwent an operation on his Achilles just hours before the game began. The game was scheduled to conclude long before the injury. But it would only be a matter of time before he would be walking on the field again.

“Even after it happened, they didn’t call me back to come back and play,” Carter said. “So by halftime I was pretty exhausted. I had got some rest so I was going to come back and say that it wasn’t good and take a rest.”

Rather than being burdened by the expectations of returning to the league, Carter’s former team, the Carolina Panthers, gave him a vote of confidence. After meeting with General Manager Marty Hurney, the team gave him full support by allowing him to spend the weekend at the facility in Charlotte. The competition that also featured Ronnie Harrison and Trae Elston had provided Carter with opportunities to work with defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo and his veteran defensive backs.

“He got thrown right into the fire,” Anarumo said. “He just had a chance to sit back and catch his breath and relax.”

On Sunday, Carter returned to the field just over two months after tearing his Achilles tendon and joined the team on the sideline during pregame warmups.

“I wouldn’t say I was nervous, but I felt like I wanted to do well,” Carter said. “So I wanted to get out there.”

Former University of Wisconsin cornerback Ella Eriksson had some advice for her former University of Florida teammate.

“The next time you come back I will probably encourage you to take a lot of big steps because you have to,” Eriksson said. “You have to trust in your doctors, your trainers and your team and you have to trust yourself and I think you will.”

Eriksson grew up watching Carter and the Panthers on Sundays. She smiled as she described the moment when Carter ripped off the cover of his cleats to reveal that they were scarred from an NBA game that he had attended as a fan back in Atlanta.

“That’s everything,” Eriksson said. “He’s done so much. I am so proud of him.”

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