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Buccaneers promote Kwon Alexander to starting middle linebacker

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have promoted Kwon Alexander to starting middle linebacker in today's practice, according to Rick Stroud, who specifically called this a promotion. We'll have to wait and see whether that move holds up in the long term, but the Bucs have talked up Alexander ever since drafting him and he had a very good game with the second-string defense on Saturday.

Part of this may be Bruce Carter's doing, who was expected to take on the role of starting middle linebacker. While the free agent signed a four-year, $20.5 million contract, the Bucs could cut ties with him after just one season, paying him just over $4 million of that contract. Carter hasn't particularly stood out this offseason, nor did he jump off the screen the way Alexander did against the Minnesota Vikings. Moreover, Carter has almost no experience playing the middle in a Tampa 2 system and has had just half of a season of truly good play in the NFL. His signing was always a gamble, and this may be an early sign that it's not working out.

But that shouldn't take away from Alexander, who was flying all over the field in his first preseason game. The fourth-round pick has been called the most athletic linebacker on the roster -- pretty impressive, given that he's on the same roster as Carter, Lavonte David and Danny Lansanah.