Next step for Bucs LBs David, Alexander: ‘Quicker decision-makers’

Bucs linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander celebrate a sack with Gerald McCoy in 2015. The two linebackers didn't register a sack last season.(DIRK SHADD | Times)
Bucs linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander celebrate a sack with Gerald McCoy in 2015. The two linebackers didn't register a sack last season.(DIRK SHADD | Times)
Published May 16

TAMPA — Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander are at the very center of the Bucs defense, and since they've established their quickness and playmaking ability, their next step should be a mental one this upcoming season.

"Improving their awareness, so they continue to see the bigger picture, and by seeing the bigger picture, being quicker decision-makers," Bucs linebackers coach Mark Duffner said Wednesday, asked what their next step would be. "The quicker they can make decisions, the more active and productive they can be. We're looking for them … to stay consistent in terms of making the opponent's offense feel them."

David and Alexander combined for eight sacks in 2016, but had none last season, and the Bucs' upgraded defensive line should help give them clear paths to opposing quarterbacks when they choose to blitz.

"We've got to get better at our technique," Duffner said. "Some of that's timing, some of that's footwork, some of that's awareness. Regardless … it's our responsibility at linebacker, as blitzers, to make the quarterback feel us."

David and Alexander finished 1-2 in tackles last season, despite missing a combined seven games with injuries. They had their share of splash plays, with David forcing five fumbles and Alexander tying for the team lead with three interceptions.

UNSUNG: Bucs special-teams coordinator Nate Kaczor raved about WR Chris Godwin, whose rookie season included a game against the Lions where he had five catches for 68 yards, but also had two solo tackles on kick coverage, including one for a negative-yardage return.

"That game right there just speaks to how rare of a player he was as a rookie, and it's because he works so hard," Kaczor said. "He's got the height, weight, speed and preparedness and toughness. He doesn't have a lot of holes in his game … the guy is a darn good player."

THIS AND THAT: LBs coach Mark Duffner said Kendell Beckwith is "on schedule" and "doing well" in recovering from a fractured ankle in a car accident in Louisiana last month. The team is hopeful he can back healthy for the start of training camp. … DBs coach Jon Hoke was impressed by undrafted rookie S Godwin Igwebuike, as well as CB Mark Myers, who earned a contract after going to rookie minicamp as a tryout player: "He's not very big, but he is very quick, he's explosive and he's fast," Hoke said. "It's interesting." … Rookie RB Ronald Jones has switched from No. 22, which he wore during rookie minicamp, and will wear No. 27 for the Bucs.

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

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