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Tampa Bay linebacker Kwon Alexander didn’t have a great debut, either

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The rookie of the Tampa Bay Bucs wasn’t good enough, either. Not in his first game.

His coaches had hoped he would arrive fully prepared. They were hoping he would make an impact. They would hope his play-calls would be the right ones.

No, the subject is not quarterback Jameis Winston.

It’s middle linebacker Kwon Alexander.

Alexander struggled, too, in his first day in the NFL. Despite all the high hopes, despite the skill set, he was not as good as he will be. That much, at least, Alexander has in common with his quarterback.

“We had two rookie signal callers and they are both going to play a lot better than they did the first time out,” head coach Lovie Smith said. “But you would like for him to be a seasoned vet right away, but it doesn’t happen like that. The next time out, though, you want to limit the mistakes and just keep growing from there. That’s what we will do. Both guys, like all our team of course, took it personally and have been doing something about it trying to improve this week.”

“Yes that, but a lot of times it’s the other way around when you are a little uncertain on what you do – you can’t be as aggressive as you normally would be and we would like,” Smith said. “The more you know exactly what you are supposed to do, the faster you can play. If you don’t know, you are normally an average player because you can’t go fast. That was the case a little bit this past week.”

Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said that Alexander will still call plays for the Bucs’ defense against the Saints this week.

Frazier said he thinks there are reasons to believe the Bucs’ defense will be better Sunday.

“I think the character of the guys (is the first reason),” Frazier said. “They are high character guys. I think because of that, as much as anything, if you didn’t have those type of people who are going to look to the left or look to the right, as opposed to looking to the mirror then you would be a little concerned. I don’t think we have very many guys like that. We have guys who take ownership for what they put on tape and they want to get it fixed.

“It starts with stopping the run. We think we have some guys who can rush the passer, but when you don’t stop the run you get what we got on Sunday. The quarterback threw the ball 16 times, 16 times. That’s not the ingredient for success the way we are set up.

“We have to do a much better job against the run. I mentioned to our players this morning, Saints, they are going to feel good about running the football. We better figure out a way to get this fixed. As well as they can throw it, we all know they are more than capable of running it. They’d like to be able to run. We got to get that addressed. Everything else will fall into place when we get that addressed.”

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

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