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Bucs rookie Kwon Alexander working at middle linebacker

TAMPA, Fla. -- When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Kwon Alexander in the fourth round, the assumption was that he would play strongside linebacker.

But that hasn’t turned out to be the case. Alexander has been working at middle linebacker.

"We’ve been playing Kwon at Mike linebacker a little bit, and that really is -- making all the calls and all that good stuff," coach Lovie Smith said. "He’s picked it up well. We do like his athletic ability; that’s why we drafted him. We had him ranked pretty high as a linebacker. We didn’t think we would have an opportunity to really get him here, but we’re pleased with what he’s done. A lot of information has gone his way. He needs that break now to kind of digest some of the stuff we’ve given him and get ready to come back. He’s going to help us a lot this coming season."

Alexander isn’t likely to start because the Bucs brought in Bruce Carter to play middle linebacker. Although weakside linebacker is generally thought of as the glamour position in the Tampa 2 defense, Smith said the middle linebacker is crucial.

"It’s very important. It’s the Mike and Will (linebacker)," Smith said. "Which one is more important? Was Hardy Nickerson less important than Derrick Brooks? Eh, you know. Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs -- a tandem that I’ve had in the past, you need both of them. They’re going to play most of the time. We normally don’t take them out. Some teams go to dime when you match up, (but) they (the Mike and Will linebacker) are going to be up on the field always, really, with us. So, yes, very important. Once we get going, he’ll be able to check out of blitzes, put us in the right call, a lot of things we ask of him."