© Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
The NFL negotiating period is fully underway, and the biggest headline for the San Francisco 49ers so far was the acquisition of inside linebacker Kwon Alexander, who signed for a reported four year, $54 million deal. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneer led the league in tackles in 2016 with 108 and made the Pro Bowl in 2017 before suffering a torn ACL last season in the last year of his rookie deal.
On Monday, Buccaneer’s reporter Jenna Laine appeared on Tolbert and Lund to talk about how Alexander’s rehab is going, as well as what type of a leader he was for the Bucs, both on and off the field.
Coming back from an ACL injury can be difficult for any player, but Laine is optimistic about the future of the 24-year-old Pro Bowler.
“(Alexander’s) rehab is going really really well,” Laine said. “He started squatting a few weeks ago, and he also started jogging recently. He’s posted video of this on social media, so you can go see it for yourself. He’s not just squatting a couple of ten-pounders on each side, he’s definitely resuming weight training. Obviously with torn ACLs you have to think about the change of direction and things like that, and that will come, but just the fact that he’s jogging right now is a really good sign.
“I was told that he shouldn’t have any limitations going into training camp,” Laine said, “although the Bucs had some concerns. They still felt like he was about three to four months away from resuming football, and that was one of the reasons there was trepidation. They did want him back, but they weren’t willing to go as high as the $13.5 million/year like the 49ers were, but I’m told that the rehab is going really really well for him.”
When asked what type of guy Alexander was in the locker room, Laine emphasized the energy and enthusiasm Alexander seemed to bring to the game day in and day out.
“General manager Jason Light and former coach Dirk Koetter said he’s the heartbeat of the defense. They actually signed Bruce Carter to come in as the middle linebacker, but you could see that this guy had so much energy, and immediately surfaced as a guy who could be a really nice run stopper. He wound up beating Bruce Carter for that role, and we’ve seen a steady progression from him, not just on the field but as a leader in the locker room.
“Even if he made mistakes, he’s making those mistakes at 500 MPH, with enthusiasm, and a short memory. Those are the types of things you want as a young linebacker.”
Laine also shared a story that sheds a light on Kwon Alexander, the person, and gives insight to what has driven him so far in his young NFL career.
“(Alexander) lost his brother, very unfortunately, as a rookie due to gun violence in their hometown of Anniston, Alabama, and he played the very next day and had the game of his life. He wound up having 11 tackles, an interception, and a fumble recovery in an overtime win over the Falcons, and he told me that he had this electricity flowing through his body.
“He said that Broderick, his brother, was playing through him. Since then, he’s dedicated everything he does to Broderick, and that’s including some off-field programs to try to stop the violence in his hometown as well as other areas, so he’s definitely become a really great leader in the community as well.”
To listen to the entire segment, click here: