Rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander has been a revelation for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he will serve a four-game suspension for a violation of the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune, citing a NFL source, reported Alexander will start the suspension in Week 14 against the New Orleans Saints. On Nov. 22, Ira Kaufman and Cummings of the Tampa Tribune first reported Alexander was expected to be suspended.
Alexander later confirmed the potential ban, telling the Tampa Bay Times' Greg Auman it stemmed from an energy drink, adding: "I didn't know. I always took it, like in high school and everything."
While Alexander told Auman at the time he was appealing the suspension, he said he's "very disappointed" in himself.
Alexander also said the team warns players to be careful about what they put into their bodies. "All they kept saying is if you're about to drink something, ask somebody first," Alexander said, per Auman.
According to Kaufman and Cummings, Alexander may have tested positive for the illegal substance during training camp. General manager Jason Licht told reporters he is withholding comment until he's officially notified, at which point he can review the case.
Alexander burst onto the scene as a fourth-round pick out of LSU this season. His 63 tackles are second on the team to go along with two sacks and two interceptions. The 21-year-old linebacker enjoyed the game of his life in a Week 8 upset over the Atlanta Falcons when he racked up 11 tackles and a pick just two days after his brother was killed.
Tampa is still in the playoff hunt at 6-6 in the NFC, but losing a player of Alexander's caliber would undoubtedly be a big blow to its postseason hopes.
Lavonte David will be forced to produce even more at the weak-side linebacker position, while veteran Bruce Carter figures to fill the void left by Alexander in the middle. The 27-year-old Carter started 32 games for the Dallas Cowboys from 2012 through 2014.
It is difficult to take positives away from a rising star's possible suspension, but the Buccaneers are at least equipped to get by without him due to the presence of an experienced reserve like Carter.
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