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Bucs Camp MVP 8-18: Alexander The Great
Let’s face it. Bucs middle linebacker Kwon Alexander hasn’t stood out like many expected him to this August. He hasn’t been featured as often as some expected on HBO’s Hard Knocks. He’s been good in practice, but hasn’t made a bunch of splash plays. Alexander has fared well in the preseason games with seven tackles, but hasn’t done anything spectacular.
Sometimes players need to be patient and let the plays come to them, and that’s what happened to Alexander on Saturday in the Bucs’ first practice since returning from Jacksonville after a 12-8 preseason win. The player, who also goes by Li-Ti-Rilla (part lion, part tiger, part gorilla), looked like the King of the Jungle on Saturday. He was red hot, like the color of his hair.
#Bucs first teams going 11-on-11. Kwon Alexander with the INT on Winston. He's been working overtime on improving his coverage ability. pic.twitter.com/dLqqh8nBdD
Alexander has been working hard on his pass coverage this offseason, telling PewterReport.com this summer that he would catch 300 passes from the JUGGS machine almost daily. That showed up on Saturday when he stepped in front of wide receiver DeSean Jackson across the middle and intercepted quarterback Jameis Winston, returning the pick for a touchdown.
The leader of the Bucs defense has a firm grasp of what defensive coordinator Mike Smith wants from Alexander in his second year in his scheme and while he hasn’t made a ton of splash plays – yet – the third-year linebacker from LSU has also cut down on his mistakes.
In addition to getting a pick-six off Winston, Alexander also read a couple of screen passes and blew them up before they had a chance to get going.
Alexander had breakout season for the Bucs last year with a pick-six against Los Angeles in addition to 145 tackles, including 108 solo stops, which were the most in the league in 2016. Look for Li-Ti-Rilla to make even more plays in the passing game in 2017 like he did during Saturday’s practice.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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