Kendell Beckwith, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' second-year linebacker, suffered an ankle injury in a single-car crash last week in Louisiana, potentially putting his participation in training camp in doubt. General Manager Jason Licht revealed that news on Thursday during his annual pre-draft press conference, noting that Beckwith was a passenger in the car and that the injury included a fracture and required surgery.
Beckwith's surgery took place on Tuesday and Licht said it is too early to give a specific prognosis as to when he could return to the field. He did not rule out the possibility that Beckwith could miss the start of the season.
"Right now it's unfair to give a timeline as well with him," said Licht. "We're very fortunate that it wasn't life-threatening for him or the [driver]. We'll probably hold him – he'll be out of OTAs, and in training camp we'll have a better idea of how far along he is."
Beckwith has already proved to be a quick healer. The Buccaneers drafted him in the third round in 2017 despite an ACL tear that had ended his final season at LSU early. There was an uncertain timeline at that point, as well, and it was considered a real possibility that Beckwith would not be ready for the start of his rookie campaign. Instead, he was cleared to practice at the very start of training camp and never missed a game.
As it turned out, Beckwith's availability for the entirety of the 2017 season became quite important when early-season injuries to Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David took the team's two veteran starters out of action for extended periods. Beckwith began the season as the Bucs' starting strongside linebacker but took over in the middle when Alexander was hurt in the season opener. Beckwith later adopted play-calling duties for the defense, as well, when David joined Alexander on the sideline. Later in the season, when Alexander and David were back in the lineup, Beckwith took on another role as a stand-up edge rusher on passing downs.
In all, Beckwith played in 16 games with nine starts during his rookie season, contributing 73 tackles, seven tackles for loss, one sack, two quarterback pressures, two passes defensed and one forced fumble.
The Buccaneers had to dip even deeper into their linebacker depth due to the aforementioned injuries, with Adarius Taylor (then known as Adarius Glanton) getting extended playing time as well. Taylor suffered a mishap of his own near the end of the season, sustaining a broken leg in Week 15, but he was re-signed by the Buccaneers prior to becoming a restricted free agent in March. Second-year man Devante Bond also carved out a role on defense as the season progressed, seeing action as a pass-rusher in certain alignments. Thus, the Buccaneers believe they have the depth to weather Beckwith's possible absence, and they could possibly add to that depth in next week's draft.
"We feel good that we have Adarius," said Licht. "[Devante] Bond was playing well, starting to come along last year. Adarius played very well when he had to fill in and he's a very versatile guy as well. There could be some guys out there in this year's draft, too. We feel good about those guys, that's why we signed Adarius back, for situations like these."