NFL officially informs Bucs of Alexander's 4-game suspension
The Bucs may be forced to play the final month of the season without rookie middle linebacker Kwon Alexander.
The team on Wednesday received official notice from the NFL that Alexander has been suspended four games for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing drugs.
Alexander has five business days, including Thanksgiving, to notfiy the league of his plans to appeal. Therefore, he is expected to play Sunday's game at Indianapolis. The appeal process could take an additional week or two, meaning Alexander may miss the Bucs (5-5) final four games of the regular season.
"All we know right now is yes, the letter came yesterday,'' Bucs coach Lovie Smith said. "There's an appeal process and all that that he could possibly go through. But we have been notified by the league, yes.''
Smith said the impending suspension, which Alexander has known about for weeks, has not affected his play. "His focus has been great,'' Smith said. "All the things Kwon Alexander has gone through to continue to play outstanding football...of course we're concerned and this serious, but there's a time for that when you're not on the football field. But his focus, when it needs to be on football, has been that way.''
A fourth-round pick from Louisiana State, Alexander is second on the team with 73 tackles and also has two sacks, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Alexander said he consumed an 'energy drink,' and was unaware it contained substances banned by the NFL.
"It was a surprise to me — I didn't know what I took or anything," Alexander said following Sunday's 45-17 win at Philadelphia. "It was an energy drink. I didn't know. I always took it, like in high school and everything. I've never been in any trouble or anything."
Alexander won the starting job at middle linebacker in training camp over Cowboys free agent Bruce Carter. The Bucs also could move strong side linebacker Danny Lansanah to Alexander's spot.
"You have to assume any of our players can go down with an injury,'' Smith said. "You have to have that plan in place always, whether it's through this or an injury, as I've said. There's a plan in place. It is Plan B. It's not the ideal one. The ideal plan for us is for Kwon to be out there. We'll see how that all plays out but if he can't, we have a Plan B.''