Bucs coach confident in rookie linebacker K.J. Britt
K.J. Britt, a rookie linebacker, hasnt played scrimmage for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But that could change on Thursday night, and if it does, the Bucs coaches claim the former Auburn standout is ready for NFL action.
Lavonte David, a 10-year veteran inside linebacker, sustained an ankle injury in Tampa Bays 45-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, and the Buccaneers are gearing up to face the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia on Thursday night.
If David isnt able to play against the Eagles, Kevin Minter, a nine-year veteran, will be used as the Buccaneers inside linebacker alongside Devin White.
Minter and Britt are the second-team inside linebackers on Tampa Bays depth chart. Grant Stuard is also a free agent for the Bucs.
When asked about Britt's possibility to play on defense this week, Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians responded, "I think hes more than ready." By this point, those guys have had a lot of snaps. I believe he and Grant both, theyll be more than ready to play if they have to.
Minter, Britt, and Stuard had each played just one defensive snap this season prior to Sundays win over Miami. All three contributed on special teams, with Britt on the field for 90 special-teams roles in Tampa Bays five games.
David and White played every defensive snap of 2021 together until David got hurt on Sunday. Minter was able to stay on the field for the final 26 minutes.
Britt, a fifth-round draft choice who has excelled at Oxford High School, was praised by defensive coordinator Todd Bowles on Tuesday, after Arians' Monday assessment of Brit.
Bowles said that Britt is tough. Hes a very hard-nosed player, added Lennon. He will run up and hit you. He studies more effectively than a normal rookie. He understands the game. He does a lot of mental reps and is ready to play.
Davids ankle injury made him one of five defensive players on the Buccaneers injury report this week, and Tampa Bay already is missing cornerbacks Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting, who are on injured reserve.
Davis, a former Auburn standout, suffered sprained quadriceps during the Bucs 19-17 victory over the New England Patriots on Oct. 3. He is regarded as arguably the most valuable player in the NFL.
Another Tampa Bay cornerback from Auburn, Jamel Dean, missed that game because of a knee injury. But, on Sunday, he made an interception in his return to the field.
Bowles was incredibly happy to have Dean back after a concussion left Davis and Murphy-Bunting on IR and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. out.
Bowles stated, "First off, hes a healthy body, so were happy to have healthy bodies back there." He brings stability because hes been in the system two years and if a guy asks, emulating it to others, and it gives you sanity because you dont have to teach something new to another guy in trying to keep the secondary intact.
Bowles expects Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts to challenge whoever plays in the Tampa Bay defense on Thursday.
Bowles said it's tough because he'll keep you honest -- anyone who can throw like a pro quarterback and run like an attacking back. He has also a certain unease. Hes very bright and hell be tough to bring down, so if you try to attack him too much, a player will hurt you down the field, and in case you dont attack his legs enough, you will be hurt with his leg. He keeps you very honest.
The Buccaneers and Eagles will kick off at 7:20 p.m. Thursday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, CDT. The game will be broadcast on FOX, NFL Network, and Amazon.
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.
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