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Dirk Koetter Discusses Kwon Alexander’s Injury

It is the worst-case scenario for the talented linebacker

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
Alexander’s absence is a big deal.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

For two weeks in a row, Dirk Koetter has been the bearer of bad news during Monday’s press conference.

Last week, he affirmed the firing of Mike Smith, his long-time friend and mentor. This week, he affirmed that starting middle linebacker - also the heart and soul of the defense - Kwon Alexander and rookie middle linebacker Jack Cichy are both done for the year after tearing their ACLs against the Browns.

“Unfortunately, the MRIs confirmed that both Kwon and Jack both have torn ACLs and will be out for the year. Unfortunate; Kwon was playing so well and he’s the heart and soul of our defense. Just very unfortunate and our locker room at halftime was extremely emotional last night,” Koetter told reporters. “Kwon came out of the training room right about the time that we were getting ready to go back on the field, so it was emotional. You could tell that the guys really care.”

It’s tough news for a rookie looking to improve like Cichy, but it’s even tougher for someone like Alexander. He was expected to land a big contract after this season and carry on as the leader of the defense. That future is now uncertain considering the unknown timetable for recovery that comes with an ACL injury.

But Koetter still has hope that Alexander can make a quick recovery.

“A guy’s second contract is big. Terrible timing as far as that goes. I also think that good football player in this league are always going to get rewarded. Guys are coming back faster than ever before. Guys have overcome this, but it doesn’t make it any easier what Kwon’s about to go through.”

Fortunately for the Bucs, they still have Lavonte David, who is one of the NFL’s top linebackers. He was responsible for one of the game’s biggest plays. As Baker Mayfield was crossing the first down marker to convert a fourth down scramble, David knocked the ball out of Mayfield’s hands. The ball then bounced backward behind the first down marker, thus giving the ball back to the Bucs.

“First off, that Lavonte play it was somewhat easy to see, but I don’t know if you can appreciate how good of a play that was,” a gushing Koetter said at the podium. “When {Baker Mayfield] broke out of there, not only did it look from where I was standing that he was going to get the first down, but like he might score. When you really see it on tape on the end zone shot, the fact that Lavonte tomahawked him and got that ball out and it went out behind, that was a heck of a play by Lavonte.”

It will be up to Adarius Taylor to man the position now. He made a couple of decent plays on Sunday and was involved on the goal-line stop in the third quarter. The Bucs also have Kendell Beckwith, but it is still unclear when he will actually return to the field.

But whether or not Taylor, Beckwith, or another player mans the now-vacant position is still up in the air.

“Adarius came in and played Mike and Lavonte [David] stayed in his same spot there at Will,” Koetter said before reassuring everyone. “We’ll get something figured out here.”

Hopefully for the Bucs’ sake, it will be easier said than done.