Mike Evans has positioned himself as one of the top players of the NFL

April 8th, 2017

Pirate Line Defender Kwon Alexander was selected as the NFL rookie this week.

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Kwon Alexander of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been suspended without pay for the team’s final four games of the regular season for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances.

The Buccaneers are not particularly deep in linebackers at the moment, although the top of the depth chart is very strong with weakside linebacker Lavonte David and middle linebacker Kwon Alexander. Those two occupy key spots in the Bucs’ 4-3 front and have been an ultra-productive duo over the last two years. Since Alexander arrived as a fourth-round draft pick in 2015, he and David have combined for 472 tackles, 14.0 sacks, 28 stuffs, nine forced fumbles, 33 passes defensed and Tampa Bay Buccaneers jerseys seven interceptions.

In addition to Alexander’s takedown of Ryan, which came on a third down in the fourth quarter, ending one drive near midfield during the Falcons’ comeback attempt, the Bucs also got single sacks from defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and defensive end Robert Ayers. Ayers got his QB takedown in his Buccaneer debut after signing with the team as an unrestricted free agent in March. Dating back to last season when he was with the New York Giants, Ayers has recorded at least one sack in each of the last six games he has played, with a total of eight sacks in that span. That’s the longest active streak of games with a sack for any defender in the NFL.

After a standout performance against the Falcons in Week 8, Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander has been selected as the NFL’s Rookie of the Week. Alexander recorded a team-high 11 tackles, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble in Tampa Bay’s victory over Atlanta. He also recorded an interception, his second of the season.

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Alexander’s suspension begins immediately. He will be eligible to return to the Buccaneers’ active roster on Monday, January 4 following the team’s January 3 game against the Carolina Panthers.Men's Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pro Line Black Gold Collection Pullover Hoodie

The Buccaneers gave a qualifying offer to linebacker Adarius Glanton, making him an exclusive rights free agent and ensuring he would be back in training camp in 2017. Glanton was a core special teamer for the Bucs last fall but might also have a shot at winning that strongside spot. There are only two other linebackers on the roster at the moment: Cameron Lynch and Jeff Knox. Lynch was another good special teams player for the Buccaneers who was picked up after the Rams let him go in September. Knox will give the NFL a go after standing out for two seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Canadian Football League. Tampa Bay can only hope Knox approximates the success of another linebacker they got from the CFL in the ’90s, eventual Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champ Shelton Quarles.

After 11 games, there should be few questions left to answer. Mike Evans has established himself as one of the NFL’s top receivers, with numbers to back that claim up. He has 1,020 receiving yards, marking his third-straight 1,000-yard season. Just one player, Atlanta’s Julio Jones, has more receiving yards thus far. And with 10 touchdown receptions, he’s tied for the league-lead.

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Wide receiver Mike Evans, who leads the NFL with eight touchdown catches, will be able to play on Sunday against Chicago after exiting the concussion protocol on Thursday.

Evans was evaluated for a concussion late in last Thursday night’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. He then entered the league’s concussion protocol but made steady progress through its steps. Evans practiced on Monday and Wednesday and then passed one final examination before being fully cleared on Thursday.

Earlier this month, the NFL announced that five players have been nominated as the Castrol Edge Clutch Performer of the Year. Among them is Mike Evans for his game-winning catch against the Panthers in Week 17. Evans catch is one of five players nominated for the award, along with Marcus Mariota for his game-winning touchdown in Week 2, Derek Carr for his late-game drive in Week 12, Khalil Mack for his strip-sack fumble recovery in Week 13 and Antonio Brown for his game-winning touchdown in Week 16.