TAMPA — Lavonte David was one of two outside linebackers named to the All-Pro first team last year, and despite a snub in the Pro Bowl voting, the Bucs star enters his third NFL season with high expectations.
Bucs coach Lovie Smith, joining players at a "Chalk Talk" luncheon at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, said he believes David is "the best outside linebacker in the game," drawing comparisons to Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks as this defense tries to reach the same level of dominance as the Bucs' Super Bowl champs 12 years ago.
"We don't shy away from that. We're putting pressure on our players to think that way," Smith said. "There's a standard we set in the past. Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, they're looking over this group and wanting a certain brand of football to be played here. We don't want to disappoint them."
Bucs QB Josh McCown, RB Doug Martin, WR Vincent Jackson, WR Mike Evans and DE Michael Johnson took questions from fans during the hour-plus luncheon.
McCown's brother Luke, a former Bucs quarterback, is a backup with the Saints, but since he isn't starting, Josh joked that his family should have no divided loyalties this fall, even in the two games where the brothers' teams play each other.
"Unless something happens to Drew (Brees), I'll be playing and he won't be," Josh said. "I hope my parents would understand that and root accordingly. … But he's going into his 11th year and my 13th year and it's a tremendous blessing for my folks to be able to say they have two sons that have played that long in the (NFL). They win before they get to the stadium."
Depth chart: After saying little Monday about their lineups, the Bucs gave a glimpse into key position battles by releasing an updated depth chart Tuesday.
WR Chris Owusu is the starter on kickoff returns, and RB Bobby Rainey on punt returns. Newcomer Logan Mankins is listed as the starting left guard, with Patrick Omameh at right guard. Rishaw Johnson is Omameh's backup, and rookie Kadeem Edwards is the No. 2 left guard. Newly signed Garrett Gilkey, who had been considered a guard, is the backup center, behind Evan Dietrich-Smith.
Mike Jenkins, who missed all of August with a leg injury, joins Alterraun Verner as the starting cornerbacks, ahead of Johnthan Banks, who started every game as a rookie last season. Brandon Myers is listed as the top tight end, ahead of touted rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Evans is the only rookie listed as a starter.
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