TAMPA — If you weren't sure of the confidence and excitement exuding from Bucs players this spring, consider LB Lavonte David, who was asked Thursday just how special the defense can be this fall.
"I think we can be the best defense ever, to be honest. I'm going to go out there and say it," David said.
Asked to clarify if he meant the best in Bucs history — the 2002 Bucs, who allowed an average 12.2 points per game on the way to a Super Bowl win, weren't too bad — David did not back down.
"Yeah, I'm going to say it. Put it on me. I'm going to say it," he said. "NFL history, Bucs history, anything. That's just the type of attitude we have."
The initial reaction on Twitter was along the lines of "let's see you be the best in your division this season first," or something less polite. The 2015 Bucs gave up an average of 26.1 points per game, ranking 26th in the 32-team NFL. They were much better in total defense, which measures yards allowed per game, ranking 10th averaging 340.4.
The best NFL defense ever? For the 16-game era, it was the 2000 Ravens — who had current Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith coaching on their defense — who gave up 165 total points, or 10.3 per game. Last year's Bucs gave up 161 in their first five losses.
"We're trying to challenge ourselves," David said.
COUNTDOWN TO LYNCH: The Bucs will induct former S John Lynch into their Ring of Honor on Nov. 3, during their Thursday night home game against the Falcons. The weeknight game will allow Lynch to enjoy his night with the Bucs and not miss an assignment as part of Fox's NFL broadcast team. Lynch has a busy fall ahead; he also will be enshrined in the Broncos' Ring of Fame. The Nov. 3 game will also feature the Bucs' all-pewter "Color Rush" uniforms.
IT'S A SNAP: Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said teams can't have great depth at all positions but one spot he believes he'll have it is center, where last year's starter, Joe Hawley, is being challenged by 2014 starter Evan Smith.
"Center might be our deepest position," Koetter said after Hawley sat out practice and Smith was back in with the starting line. "I'm really fired up about our depth at center. Not only Joe and Evan, but Ben Gottschalk, a guy we brought back that we had here for a while last year."
Koetter continues to have guards Ali Marpet and Kevin Pamphile get occasional work at center. Both did Thursday during a no-helmet portion of the noncontact practice. Both are working primarily as guards in practice, but Koetter wants as many linemen as possible who can snap.
THIS AND THAT: Practice began and ended with interceptions, LB Daryl Smith and DB Jude Adjei-Barimah making plays on defense. … Rookie S Ryan Smith remains sidelined with an undisclosed injury, as does rookie RB Russell Hansbrough.
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.