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Bucs think Kwon Alexander’s loss made difference down the stretch

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It wasn’t a coincidence, says head coach Dirk Koetter, that the Tampa Bay Bucs were a 6-6 team with Kwon Alexander last year and 0-4 without him.

The Bucs were winless during the last month when Alexander was suspended.

“I believe that wasn’t coincidence,” Koetter said. “I believe we missed him a lot. I think Kwon is a big cog in our defense to use your terms. He’s the quarterback – he’s Jameis [Winston] of the defense, so I think that definitely played a part in it.”

The defense, one of the biggest keys to the Bucs’ season, continued to take shape during Saturday’s practice. That defense, led by new coordinator Mike Smith, should be more aggressive than that of year ago.

For instance, defensive end Noah Spence continued to make his mark felt, even against the run.

“Noah, by standards, is an undersized defensive end, but I think he plays a lot bigger than his measurable,” Smith said. “He has a very good short punch, and he understands leverage, and he’s got quickness. He can move and run around blocks at times and make some plays and he’s also got strong enough hands and punch that he can hold the point. We’re going to have to be very careful about what we’re going to ask him to do early on in the season.”

Smith also said cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Alterraun Verner have played well together.

“I think they’ve progressed well,” Smith said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how we progress now that we basically put our package in and now we can start refining. We’ve got a lot of refinement to do as a defensive football team. We’ve got guys that we know are out of place and the casual fan might say ‘oh that was a great play ‘Well it was not necessarily the case.”

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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