DECEMBER 7, 1:13pm: Alexander will begin serving his four-game suspension this week, a source tells Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune (Twitter link). That would rule out the linebacker for the rest of the regular season, making him eligible to return either for the first game of the postseason or the 2016 opener.
NOVEMBER 22, 4:35pm: Alexander claims the substance was in an energy drink he consumed, and he will appeal the suspension, tweets Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune.
8:32am: Buccaneers rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander has tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug and faces a four-game suspension, per Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times, who adds that the banned substance is believed to be contained in an over-the-counter supplement that Alexander consumed (Twitter links).
According to Stroud, Alexander has been aware of the positive test for several weeks, but the NFL has not yet notified the team. Once the Bucs are formally notified, Alexander will have five business days to file an appeal. In the meantime, Alexander will continue to play, and in fact is expected to start against the Eagles this afternoon (Twitter links). Jenna Laine of Sports Talk Florida has tweeted confirmation of the news.
Although Tampa Bay is a full two games out of a wild card spot, the team has won two of its last three contests and is seeing a noticeable improvement in play from rookie signal-caller Jameis Winston. However, any playoff push it may make would be significantly hindered by losing Alexander, who has been one of the Bucs’ best defensive players this season and who is third on the team in solo tackles. The former LSU product, selected in the fourth round of this year’s draft, has added two interceptions and two sacks in head coach Lovie Smith‘s linebacker-driven defense. Alexander has started all nine of the team’s games this year.
General manager Jason Licht has not commented on this development, as he is still awaiting notification from the league (Twitter link via Stroud). Should Alexander lose his appeal, or should he opt to not file one, Bruce Carter could see an increase in playing time.