Buccaneers Panthers Football

Tampa Bay Buccaneers middle linebacker Kendell Beckwith (51) in action against the Carolina Panthers during an NFL game in Charlotte, N.C. on Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017. (Chris Keane/AP Images for Panini)

Chris Keane

There were plenty of reasons for Kendell Beckwith to temper his expectations for his rookie season. 

None looming larger than the presence of veteran linebacker Lavonte David and Beckwith's former LSU teammate, Kwon Alexander. In today's NFL, most defenses can only give two linebackers starter's snaps, and Tampa Bay already had two established stars. 

Beckwith found a way to make an impact anyway. Drafted in the fourth round, Beckwith ranks fourth on the Buccaneers with 70 tackles, and he's also got seven tackles-for-loss for Tampa Bay. 

"I knew that coming in, and I knew when I got my opportunity to be on the field, I just wanted to go out there and make plays," Beckwith said. "When you have two really good guys like that on either side of you, you can’t be slacking."

Injuries allowed Beckwith to take on a bigger role after he earned the starting job on the strong side coming out of training camp, even though he was coming off of a torn ACL suffered in his final season at LSU.

Both David and Alexander have missed time due to injury this season, and when he was needed, Beckwith stepped into the void. 

"I know I was coming off an injury," Beckwith said. "But I had high expectations for myself, so I was ready for whatever they threw at me."

Follow Joel A. Erickson on Twitter, @JoelAErickson.