PHILADELPHIA — Lost in the excitement of the Bucs' 45-17 win at the Eagles was news Sunday morning that rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander is facing a four-game suspension for a violation of the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
Alexander said he is appealing the pending suspension and will continue to play until that appeal is heard — potentially for a few weeks — but said he accepts responsibility for not checking with team trainers before taking an "energy drink" that he has taken since high school.
"It's my fault. … I've never been in any trouble or anything," Alexander said. "It's very disappointing. I'm really disappointed in myself. All they kept saying is if you're about to drink something, ask somebody first. I'm very disappointed in myself and I hold myself accountable. … If I get suspended, I'm going to come back even stronger."
Alexander, a fourth-round pick from LSU, has started every game at middle linebacker and had played in all but five defensive snaps this season entering Sunday's game. He led the team in tackles with 10 on Sunday and is among the NFL's leading tacklers, and he also has two interceptions, two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Bucs general manager Jason Licht declined to comment before Sunday's game, saying the team hadn't yet been officially notified by the league of his suspension; that's expected today. The Bucs then have five business days to appeal the suspension, a process that can take two or three weeks, so Alexander could end up missing the final four games of the season.
Alexander said he didn't know he was taking any banned substance but should have known to check with team trainers.
"It was a surprise to me — I didn't know what I took or anything," Alexander said. "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."
Contact Greg Auman at firstname.lastname@example.org and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.