Saturday night’s preseason opener had its less-than-flattering moments, but it wasn’t all bad in Minnesota.
Rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander represented one of those bright spots and was rewarded by getting first-team reps Monday afternoon.
“What happens when you make plays? You get an opportunity to get more plays,” head coach Lovie Smith said after the team’s first practice since opening preseason play. “We are looking at different combinations. It’s what we are doing. We wanted to see him working with the different groups today. That’s what we got. We are very pleased with what he has done as a rookie. Rookies, though, have a long way to go to start. He’s doing some things to make us notice.”
Alexander recorded the first of his four total tackles Saturday on the opening play of the second quarter when he brought down Vikings running back Matt Asiata for a 1-yard gain.
The 6-foot-1, 227-pound backer out of LSU spoke to the media after practice Monday and said that while the brief promotion is encouraging, he’s trying to just keep everything in perspective at the moment.
“I had a pretty good game,” Alexander said. “I’ve always got a chance to get better. I’m just coming out to practice to get better. Today I was with the 1’s. So I’m out here grinding, man, trying to get my role and make the team better. That’s it.”
Alexander stepped into the middle linebacker role that veteran Bruce Carter has been occupying throughout camp. Despite starting at LSU on the outside, the Bucs have moved Alexander to the middle and listed him as Carter’s backup when the first depth chart was released last week.
“I can play either one,” the rookie was asked where he feels most comfortable. “Wherever coach wants me to play, I’m going to play. But the middle is harder because you’re the key of the defense. You’ve got to call everything out so everybody knows their roles. Just talking is the key to the defense.”
Kwon’s rise has been very impressive and is, IMO, much more a testament to his talent and hard work than it is to Carter’s getting, at least temporarily, passed on the depth chart.
Looks like we’ve got ourselves a player in this one.
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I’m glad to see K. Alexander already earning time with the 1’s at MLB. That’s great value for a 4th round pick and not an easy transition from college OLB. I was never sold on Carter in middle. The play actions seemed to always have Carter out of position last Saturday. Alexander was on the balls of his feet and chopping them up and down before the ball was even snapped, buying him an extra jump in transition.
Our linebackers have always been great here. Kwon is just one more in the lineage. Great to see him “earn” time with the ones. But is it that he’s better or that Carter knows what he’s doing and they are seasoning the kid in practice? Either way kudos to him for making his name known early and often.
Kwon was the most impressive rookie in week 1 imo. Good to see him getting recognized for his efforts. Ironically, he was the one draft pick I thought was questionable…good thing I’m not a GM lol
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