Kendell Beckwith won't be ready to practice when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers open training camp later this week, but he will remain eligible to hit the field as soon as he's ready.
Tampa Bay's second-year linebacker is still recovering from an ankle fracture suffered in a one-car accident in Louisiana in April. Beckwith, a passenger in the car, required surgery on his ankle but is attempting to return before the start of the regular season. Given Beckwith's current status, the Buccaneers chose to place him on the active/non-football-injury list on Monday, two days before veterans are due to report for camp.
Beckwith won't practice while he is on the active/NFI list, but he will still count against the 90-man roster limit, and he may be removed from that list at any time. The purpose of putting Beckwith on that list despite it carrying no roster exemption is to keep other roster options open for later, depending on how quickly he heals. If a player is place on an active NFI or PUP (physically unable to perform) list prior to the start of camp, he can later be transferred to a reserve NFI or PUP list before the regular season, in which case he would not count against the 53-man roster.
Beckwith already proved to be a quick healer in his first year with the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay traded up into the final pick of the third round in the 2017 draft in order to select the LSU linebacker, and that is likely much lower than he would have been available if his final college season had not ended with an ACL tear in November of 2016. The timetable for Beckwith's return to action was uncertain at the time of that draft, but he was eventually cleared for action at the start of training camp and never experienced a setback.
Beckwith would end up winning the starting job at strongside linebacker and playing in all 16 games as a rookie. Injuries to fellow starters Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David eventually thrust him into an even more prominent role, and he started four games in the middle before returning to the strong side. Later in the season, with the Buccaneers hurting for depth and impact snaps at defensive end, Beckwith was frequently employed as a stand-up pass-rusher along the line of scrimmage.
In all, the heady rookie started nine of his 16 games played and finished fourth on the team with 73 tackles. He also contributed seven tackles for loss, one sack, two passes defensed and one forced fumble. When he returns to action, Beckwith will likely be a strong contender to once again join Alexander and David in the starting lineup.