Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier didn’t pull any punches when asked about the current stability of his linebacking corps.
The unit’s seen one starter get demoted this season, another have to sit multiple games due to injury and its all-around play waiver as a result.
Starting middle linebacker Mason Foster’s return from a shoulder injury last week was a welcomed sight but Frazier acknowledged the unit’s depth took another hit Wednesday when Brandon Magee went down in practice with a knee injury. The second-year linebacker out of Arizona State did not participate in practice Thursday.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Like yesterday when Brandon [McGee] went down, who’s our fourth linebacker, you think, ‘What’s next?’ We had a situation in the Baltimore game where Danny [Lansanah] had to leave the game, Brandon gets a little dinged, and Dane [Fletcher] had to come in. It’s been a revolving door at some of the positions. But in our league, to be lining up with three guys and saying that nobody’s going to get hurt over the course of four quarters – it isn’t going to happen. You’re fooling yourself. We need better depth without question.”
The Tampa Bay front office made two moves this week to address depth, though neither inspires much excitement. Mister Alexander, in his third year out of Florida State, was signed to the practice squad on Tuesday, and fourth-year pro Orie Lemon was signed to the active roster from Kansas City’s practice squad.
Coupled with Magee’s recent injury is starter-turned-backup Jonathan Casillas’s nagging hamstring issue. Casillas, who was supplanted by Danny Lansanah at strongside Week 4 in Pittsburgh, was inactive for last week’s loss to Baltimore and said that it’s no guarantee he’ll be on the field Sunday against Minnesota.
“I’m not going to put too much on it but I’m going to get back out there [to practice],” Casillas said from the locker room on Wednesday. “My goal is to definitely play this week.”
If Casillas isn’t able to go Sunday and no other moves are made, the Bucs will be left with Dane Fletcher and Lemon to spell Foster, Lansanah and Lavonte David. Alexander is the only linebacker currently on the Bucs’ 10-man practice squad.