TAMPA -- Linebacker Kwon Alexander wasn’t even on the field for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ final four games in 2015, but he’s taking the blame for the team going 0-4.
Alexander didn’t play because he was serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drugs policy, and he felt responsible for the losses to New Orleans, St. Louis, Chicago and Carolina. The Bucs were 6-6 with him on the field.
"I take all the heat for that," Alexander said Thursday. "I was supposed to have been there. That’s my fault. It won’t happen again, though. That’s one thing; it won’t happen again.
"I’ve never been in trouble or nothing. That surprised me when that happened, and it hurt me so bad."
Alexander told the Tampa Tribune last November that his failed PED test was because of an energy drink he has been using since his days at Oxford (Alabama) High School. He said Thursday that was a wakeup call for him to be more vigilant about what he puts in his body.
"You’ve got to be very smart when you’re in the league," Alexander said. "It’s a lot of rules. It’s way different than college. You’ve just got to be way smart in what you do and just be a leader and always stay on top of your stuff."
Alexander said he’s eager to get on the field so he can put his suspension fully behind him and build on what was a very good rookie season. Alexander, whom the Bucs took in the fourth round, finished second on the team with 93 tackles and had 3.0 sacks, nine pass breakups, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.
He had a monster game in the Bucs’ 23-20 overtime victory over Atlanta on Nov. 1. Alexander had 11 tackles, an interception, and a fumble recovery less than 48 hours after his 17-year-old brother, Broderick Taylor II, was shot to death.
Alexander has stayed busy this offseason and he said he’s sort of attached himself to veteran linebacker Daryl Smith, whom the Bucs signed as a free agent after nine seasons in Jacksonville and three in Baltimore.
"I ask all the questions I can, and he answers them all," Alexander said. "He’s been in this league for a long time. I’m picking his brain, too. I’m picking everybody’s brain. I’m just trying to be the best I can be."
Alexander said he hopes other players follow his lead, whether they’re rookies, second-year guys or seasoned veterans.
"I’m trying to make this defense the No. 1 defense in the league," Alexander said. "I’ve got big expectations and how I work [hopefully means] everybody is going to work like me. I like to bring excitement, have fun, and that’s how it’s going to be around here."