Last Sunday was the Bucs' first game this season without Kwon Alexander, their rookie middle linebacker who started the team's first 12 games. With Alexander serving a four-game suspension, Bruce Carter was propelled into the starting lineup and had an excellent game, recording eight tackles, two of which were for losses, along with a sack and a quarterback hit.
Carter's performance may have surprised Buccaneer fans, but fellow linebacker Lavonte David wasn't taken back.
"It was no surprise, man," David said on Buccaneers Total Access on Monday night. "Bruce is a veteran on this football team. We have just as much confidence in Bruce as we had in Kwon. He's a veteran, he knows what he's doing. He stepped up when he was supposed to step up and not miss a beat. For the most part, he was able to do that."
Carter arrived in Tampa this offseason as one of the team's top free agent signings after playing with the Cowboys from 2011 to 2014. The Bucs' plans were to play Carter in the middle upon his arrival, but, after Alexander broke out in the preseason, the team moved him to the outside to compete with Danny Lansanah. Lansanah earned the job and Carter served as a backup for the Bucs' first 12 games.
Carter's start on Sunday was his first this season. With Alexander playing most of, if not all of the Bucs' defensive snaps, Carter had earned a defensive statistic in just one other game.
Whether or not the Bucs will have Carter's services on Sunday has yet to be determined. He was held out of Monday's practice with an ankle injury, leaving Tampa Bay thin at the linebacker position. The team will need him as they prepare to take on Todd Gurley, one of the NFL's best young running backs. Gurley has 975 rushing yards so far, the fourth-most in the league.
Behind-the-scenes photos of the Buccaneers vs. Saints game at Raymond James Stadium on December 13th.