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Patriots Notebook

Carter is a real tough critic

Veteran end eager to improve his play

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / August 22, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH - Andre Carter looked back on his first preseason game with the Patriots and saw all of his mistakes. Among them were a missed tackle on a draw and rusty tackling skills.

The veteran defensive end acknowledges he doesn’t always see the positives in his performances. So he didn’t point out the instances in which he displayed quickness and strength in pressuring the quarterback. He failed to mention the numerous plays that didn’t show up on the stat sheet but led to results for his teammates.

Overall, however, he was encouraged by his play in the 31-14 win over the Buccaneers last Thursday and he’s excited about the regular season.

“I wouldn’t say I played well; I’m my own worst critic,’’ Carter said. “But it was definitely great to get a feel for a live-game situation, there’s some things I need to improve on as far as [stopping the] run and I was definitely rusty with my tackling. But overall, it’s definitely a steppingstone.’’

Carter didn’t play in the exhibition opener against the Jaguars, so he was eager to get on the field in Tampa.

Carter has been with the Patriots 14 days and he said the best way for him to improve is through practice.

“That’s just repetition through the practice field, like anything else - reps, reps, and more reps,’’ he said. “But I think overall it was just great to put my hand in the dirt and do what I do best - compete.’’

If there is one thing the Patriots have a lot of, it’s versatility along the defensive line. Carter said the competition for playing time is helpful for everyone.

“You know, I think one thing that we all take pride on, despite the numbers, big or small, we’re always constantly helping each other out, whether it’s Vince [Wilfork] coming to the younger guys or younger guys asking the best questions as far as technique, and being a vet myself, when a young guy comes to me, it reminds me of what I need to work on,’’ Carter said.

Mills back in fold The Patriots signed tight end Garrett Mills yesterday, bringing back a player the team drafted in the fourth round in 2006. Mills spent much of his rookie season battling hip and thigh injuries.

The Patriots waived the Tulsa product before the 2007 season, hoping he would clear waivers and join the practice squad. But then-Vikings coach Brad Childress claimed Mills. The Patriots followed by claiming Vikings linebacker David Herron.

Mills was with the Vikings for three seasons before he was released in 2010. The Eagles signed and released him. He ended last season with the Bengals, who waived him last week.

Mills has nine receptions for 110 yards in 16 games in his career.

Lockett in limbo Defensive back Bret Lockett, who was carted off the field against Tampa Bay with a groin injury, was waived. However, the move may be part of the process to place Lockett, who is in his third season, on injured reserve. Lockett has had trouble staying healthy. The Patriots claimed him in 2009, when the rookie played 10 games before being placed on injured reserve with a groin injury. He spent all of 2010 on IR with a chest injury . . . The Patriots also released offensive lineman Zach Roth, who was signed Aug. 13 as a rookie free agent out of Texas Christian University . . . The Patriots will return to practice today. This is a critical week for the players as the roster will be cut from 90 players to 80 by 4 p.m. Aug. 30. The Patriots travel to Detroit to play the Lions Saturday night.

Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @monwalker.

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