Lavonte David says trash-talking Bucs are having more fun, which is a good thing

Linebcker Lavonte David, right, was the only Bucs player to make it on an AP All-Pro ballot, getting on two of 50 ballots.[Times files]
Linebcker Lavonte David, right, was the only Bucs player to make it on an AP All-Pro ballot, getting on two of 50 ballots.[Times files]
Published June 13 2018
Updated June 13 2018

It may sound like rubbish, but trash talking works. Just ask Lavonte David.

The Bucs linebacker said coaches encouraged players to have more fun in practice. David said it has led to more spirited scrimmages and more competitive ones, too.

"We're competing with each other. We're out here having fun," David said Wednesday. "It's crazy. I mean, I don't think we've had this much fun in a while when we've been out here. It's competitive, guys are out here having fun, making plays, man.

"We're just out here trying to make each other better. When we first got here, (head coach) Dirk (Koetter) said it's competing, but at the same time, have fun. All we're doing right now is trying to make each other better and trying to build for the season."

The defense, which was last in the NFL in 2017, is suddenly holding its own against a high-flying offense led by quarterback Jameis Winston. Rookies such as cornerback Carlton Davis have even upped the compete level, and confidence on both sides of the ball is soaring.

David is quiet on and off the field by nature, but players such as Kwon Alexander have got him chirping.

"When you're out there competing, it brings the guys across from you, their level up, too," David said. "There's a lot of trash talking going on out there, a lot of yakking, and guys are having fun and the competitiveness is picking up. You see a rookie, Carlton Davis, going against Mike Evans. Those guys. He's battling his butt off. He may not be talking right now, but we're talking for him. We're saying, 'You ain't going to let him do that to you.'

"Stuff like that. That just brings up guys' competitive nature, and you see it across the board from the offensive side and defensive side. We got Jameis trash talking and you've got everybody trash talking. We're just not doing it for fun. We're doing it to get everybody better. To build up that self-esteem for those guys and build up that confidence so we know when he's out there, he's going to give us his all.''

Of course, tackling still tops talking any day in the NFL. According to David, players have been held even more accountable for knowing assignments.

A year ago, under the glare of Hard Knocks camera lights, David said the Bucs bought into their own hype that came from outside sources.

"I think so. I think last year, we weren't being real with ourselves," David said. "I think outside everybody had these certain expectations about us. But we weren't really looking in the mirror and focusing on ourselves. This year, we've really focused on that.

"I think coach Koetter and the staff did a great job on that, focusing on that, basically saying we were poor last year. It was terrible. We weren't where we needed to be and we've got to change it, we've got to get better. From that day forward, everybody hit the ground running. Everybody is going out there just trying to better themselves and better the team."