Undrafted rookies Carter, Nickerson excited for Bengals opportunity

On Saturday Cethan Carter got the call. On Sunday, the car.

Carter, a tight end from Nebraska, knew making the Cincinnati Bengals roster as an undrafted rookie was a longshot, so there was no reason to bring his car to town. But after he got a call from head coach Marvin Lewis on Saturday morning, his parents made the drive from New Orleans to bring him his car.

“It means a lot, it means everything,” Carter said of making the 53-man roster. “I called my mom first, then I called my dad and my brother. They were all excited.”

So was the family of linebacker Hardy Nickerson, another undrafted rookie who made the team.

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Nickerson said he was waiting in line to get breakfast Saturday morning when he found he had made it.

“I saw the 513 area code and answered it quick,” he said. “I was pretty anxious to know what the final verdict was going to be, so when coach Lewis told me I was really excited. Getting that call was great.”

Nickerson went ahead and placed his order at the Maplewood Kitchen before firing off a text to his father Hardy Sr., a 16-year NFL veteran. But it would be a few hours before he could actually talk to his dad, who is the defensive coordinator at Illinois.

“He was in pregame mode,” Hardy Jr. said. “I got to talk to him after the game.”

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Delivering news, both good and bad, on cutdown day has become routine for Lewis, who went through the process for the 15th time Saturday.

But Lewis said making the call to undrafted guys who have beaten the odds never gets old, and he made sure Carter and Nickerson were among the first two players he called.

“I talked to Cethan and Hardy, just to make sure they could relax a little bit,” he said. “It’s important to do. It’s a long day on Friday (the day after the final preseason game and before the roster announcement).

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“But that’s the fun part of it,” Lewis added. “They’re being rewarded for what they’ve done. They’re getting an opportunity to start here and move forward in their career.”

Unfortunately for the players, Cethan Sr. and Hardy Sr. may not be able to be at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday to see their sons make their NFL debuts due to their jobs.

Hardy Sr. will be breaking down film from Saturday’s game against Western Kentucky, and Cethan Sr. owns an air conditioning business and traveling to Cincinnati on back-to-back weekends probably isn’t doable.

“I’m sure he’ll watch the game on TV,” Cethan Jr. said.

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