TAMPA – With Kwon Alexander nursing what appears to be a sore left hamstring, rookie Kendell Beckwith will likely start at middle linebacker for the Buccaneers in their third preseason game against the Browns at Raymond James Stadium tonight.
It’s due in large part to Beckwith’s will and determination that he’ll do so.
It was less than nine months ago that Beckwith, an LSU product, underwent surgery to repair the tear in the left ACL he suffered in a game against the Gators last November. Beckwith, though, began fighting back from that surgery long before he even had it.
Beckwith said last week that prior to going under the knife, he began what’s called “pre-hab,’’ an exercise therapy program designed to increase the level of function in the joint and reduce the amount of pain felt immediately after surgery.
The goal of pre-hab is to get the patient into the rehabilitation phase as soon as possible and for Beckwith that was literally the day after he had the surgery on a knee in which he’d also suffered a strained LCL during spring workouts a few months earlier.
“My mom still has the picture of me in my rehab the day after I had the surgery,’’ Beckwith said. “It’s crazy because after the surgery, your core (muscle group) feels like you’ve never worked out a day in your life. I mean, it just goes.
“But I got into rehab the next day and then, when I got here, I told (Bucs head athletic trainer) Bobby (Slater) how good I felt. I don’t think he believed me but once I got out there (on the field) and they saw how I was able to run and cut and stuff, they were like, ‘I guess so.’’’
Beckwith says he hasn’t “slowed down a bit’’ since he was first cleared to begin football activities again back in the spring and in fact, no longer even senses that he actually had the knee surgery in the first place.
“I don’t even think about it,’’ he said. “I mean, I’ve been knocked down and fallen awkward and I make all kinds of crazy cuts and moves out there now but (the surgery) is the last thing on my mind. I’m just out there trying to play ball.’’
He’s doing a pretty good job of that. Beckwith, who was drafted in the third round and was originally slated to back up Devante Bond at strong-side linebacker, will go into Saturday’s game among the Bucs leaders in several key categories.
He’s tied with cornerback Ryan Smith for the team lead in tackles with nine; leads the team in tackles for loss with three and is tied for the team lead with one sack.
“I’m truly blessed,’’ Beckwith said of his fast recovery from what could have been a career-ending injury. “I really am blessed.’’
So, too, it seems are the Bucs. They drafted Beckwith not really knowing what they’d get from him this year, but he’s already surpassed expectations. If he continues to do so, he could play a big part what the Bucs hope will be a defensive resurgence this year.