Ten days after losing middle linebacker Kwon Alexander to a season-ending ACL injury, the Bucs finally received some hopeful news as linebacker Kendell Beckwith returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since breaking his ankle in a car accident last April.
The Bucs have a 21-day window to activate Beckwith from the reserve non-football injury list. During that time, he does not count against the 53-man roster.
Beckwith can be activated any time within the next three weeks and added to the roster to play in games.
"It's really remarkable," coach Dirk Koetter said. "Off-season accident and when he had that surgery, they were saying this was going to be a tough injury to come back from. He's worked his tail off. He's had a couple setbacks along the way. They finally cleared him…I know he was excited to be out there today and we'll have to see how he responds. If it's positive, they'll add more reps to his plate and as soon as he feels like he's ready and the doctors feel like he's ready, he could possibly return."
Beckwith had an outstanding rookie season in 2017 playing inside and outside linebacker. He would be a great replacement for Alexander. As a rookie, Beckwith had 73 tackles, one forced fumble and two passes defensed.
"Well, last year as a rookie, shoot, he was extremely productive in a first-year role at both (middle) linebacker and (strongside) linebacker," defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Mark Duffner said. "In the Patriots game, where he was the (middle) linebacker, he was our leading tackler with about 14 tackles. So he's an instinctive player. A lot of the guys are still on the mend, and we're just going to have to see in practice. "
Against Cleveland, Adarius Taylor started at middle linebacker and only had two tackles.
Koetter said there is a mental hurdle that Beckwith will have to get over. "He missed a lot of time here, so how quick can he come back and everybody is a little different in that area."