The initial free agency period and the draft came and went without the Bucs addressing the inside linebacker position. A huge reason why is the ascension of K.J. Britt, last year’s fifth-round pick out of Auburn.

As a rookie, Britt carved out an immediate role on special teams, finishing the year with five tackles on the unit. That ranked fourth on the team. As he takes the next step into becoming the team’s top backup inside linebacker, special teams coach Keith Armstrong thinks his work on defense may carry over.

“K.J.’s doing a really good job,” Armstrong said. “K.J. is doing a good job of running the defense now. Some of that may carry over into the special teams part of it.”

The team looks poised to give Britt a shot at the top backup position that’s been held by veteran Kevin Minter the past four seasons. The second-year player will need to continue to show improvement in all aspects of his game. That includes a better understanding of the playbook and defense as a whole.

“I’m impressed with him so far,” co-defensive coordinator/inside linebackers coach Larry Foote said. “We need a guy that knows the defense. And if one of those two guys (Lavonte David and Devin White) go down, we don’t miss a beat. He’s got to prove that to us and Coach (Todd) Bowles in walk-throughs. He’s doing a great job these last couple weeks. It’s tough for a young guy to replace an older guy. It’s a lot of pressure. So, as long as he keeps growing at this pace, we’ll be comfortable with him.”

Playing Time Key For Development of Bucs LB Britt

Bucs ILB K.J. Britt

Bucs ILB K.J. Britt – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

For Britt, just getting on the field was a key to his growth last season. Getting out on the field and knowing he belonged and could play in the league was a key to his improvement.

“What improved was just playing,” Britt said at the Arians Family Foundation Golf Tournament in April. “Just knowing that I could play, knowing that I can excel in this league. This year, I’m just trying to be the best I can be. Dive into the playbook and really know the playbook and just fill a role as the third linebacker. Still on special teams and do what I got to do and do my job. Then, just be ready to play when my number’s called.”

The Bucs linebacker is on a good track to filling that role behind starters Lavonte David and Devin White. As long as he continues to take the coaching and translate it into plays on the field, he could play his way into the third linebacker spot.

“Just play,” Foote said. “Just keep showing up. First step of getting better is keep showing up and just keep on developing. So far in the classroom, they’re responding. They’re responding to the information that’s given and they’re doing a good job spitting it back.”

In limited playing time last season, Britt finished with 12 tackles, one tackle for loss, a quarterback hit and a pass defended. As of now, in the case of injury this season, Britt is the next man up. He’ll need to be ready to produce if his number is called.

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About the Author: J.C. Allen

J.C. Allen is one of PewterReport.com’s newest beat writers. As a New England transplant, he has closely followed Tom Brady’s entire career and first fell in love with the game during the Patriots 1996 Super Bowl run. J.C. is in his second year covering the team after spending a year with Bucs Report as a writer, producer and show host. Some of his other interests include barbecuing, being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends. His favorite Buccaneer of all time is Simeon Rice and believes he deserves a spot in Canton. Follow J.C. Allen on Twitter @JCAllenNFL.
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Alldaway 2.0
Alldaway 2.0
1 month ago

After having a year to think about the 2021 draft class and see them play I still like all of the them. As I said a year ago they were drafted with the future in mind which obviously ran counter to the Bucs win now mode of the 2021 season. The 2021 draft class have made progress in some ways and other ways have a long way to go. Interesting that Stuard and Britt have made the most progress so far from the 2021 draft class. But then again JTS, Trask, Darden, and Hainsely all have higher learning curves based… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Alldaway 2.0
Dude
Dude
Reply to  Alldaway 2.0
1 month ago

Your joking about a LB not having as high as a learning curve as the other guys you mentioned, right? MLB’s are the defensive field generals, the QB’s of defense. They have a lot to process. I would put a MLB’s learning curve up there as a high one.

Dman
Dman
1 month ago

Big fan of Britt at Auburn. Thumper, sound fundamentals and smart. Gotta love the way Stuard plays

MIArmysoldier
MIArmysoldier
1 month ago

I know this article is about Britt but-I love seeing the passion Stuard plays with. His tackles on ST- he’s always pumped and ready for more.