Bucs rookie LB Lavonte David calm in making all the calls
Bucs rookie linebacker Lavonte David was given a surprise by defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan during a team meeting Saturday, the eve of his first NFL regular season start:
David, 22, would be wearing the helmet transmitter through which coaches can talk to him, making him responsible for making defensive calls against Carolina. Considering David had never done so, even in the preseason, it caught him a little off-guard.
“I’m like, ‘Oh man,’” said David, a second-round pick out of Nebraska. “Sheridan told me it’s a big responsibility, and I have to own up to it.”
But David stepped up to the challenge, with teammates saying he was calm and effective, along with leading the Bucs with six tackles. He said veterans helped him out, with the only hiccup a few having to tell the soft-spoken Miami native to speak up. The Bucs held the Panthers to 10 points, as well as only 10 rushing yards.
“It was a lot of pressure on me, making all the calls and being a rookie,” David said. “But I felt like I handled the responsibility okay. I had a lot of veterans helping me out and calming me down and stuff like that. As the season goes on, I’m sure I’ll get used to it.”
Linebacker Mason Foster handled the defensive calls as a rookie for most of last season. But David, the weakside linebacker, said with him never leaving the field, the coaches felt like they wanted the responsibility on one person, and not have to switch it. Foster said it was a team effort, with him making some checks and adjustments during nickel situations, but believes David is "a natural."
“I think he did a good job,” LB Quincy Black said. “It was kind of one of those deals where it kind of popped up on us in the meetings and nobody flinched, and he did a good job. He knows his stuff.”
-- JOE SMITH