Sunday, December 17, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs' Lavonte David picks up defensive player of the week honor

TAMPA — LB Lavonte David admits he put too much pressure on himself because of his own expectations that came with signing a five-year, $50.25 million contract extension before the start of the season.

David still led the team in tackles, but the game-changing, impact plays were missing from his game.

"It's added expectations from everybody outside and also from myself," David said. "That's why I had to take a seat, sit back and visualize everything. I wasn't playing my game the way I usually play.

"I think it was probably after that Giants game (Nov. 8) that I took it upon myself to calm down and trust my teammates, trust that everybody is going to do what they need to do."

The result was David having a monstrous game in Sunday's 45-17 win at Philadelphia with two interceptions, including one he returned for his first career touchdown. For that performance, David was named the NFC defensive player of the week.

David is the second Bucs linebacker to take home the honors this season — rookie Kwon Alexander was honored after Week 8. David also won the award in 2013. Derrick Brooks and Hardy Nickerson are other Bucs linebackers to win the award twice.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston (five TD passes) and RB Doug Martin (235 rushing yards) missed out on NFC offensive honors, which went to Panthers QB Cam Newton, who had five touchdowns in a victory.

"Obviously, it's a team honor," David said. "You've got to take your hat off to all 11 guys out there for allowing me to play the way I play and the coaches for putting me in position to make plays. That's what happened this past Sunday, and I'm grateful for it."

After scoring his first career touchdown, David fell to his knees and raised both hands.

"That was amazing. A blessing," David said. "A relief, to finally get into the end zone my (fifth) year. I'm very happy. You don't understand. It felt really good, though."

RARE REUNION: Colts QB Matt Hasselbeck, who turned 40 in September, has been playing long enough that he has ties that go back more than 20 years, like the fact that his first offensive coordinator at Boston College was current Bucs offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. The Colts host the Bucs on Sunday.

"He was a really, really good football coach, a great quarterbacks coach, and I feel really lucky that in college I had such good coaching," said Hasselbeck, who has played well this season, throwing for five touchdowns and two interceptions filling in for the injured Andrew Luck.

Hasselbeck is 3-0 as starter, including a win against Atlanta last week, and he said he owes Koetter a small part for him getting into the NFL in the first place. Koetter put in a good word with the Packers, who drafted Hasselbeck in the sixth round in 1998.

"I guess Dirk had put in a helpful assessment of me when really no one else in the world thought I could make it at the next level," he said. "Thanks to Dirk and Andy Reid for seeing something that I didn't even see myself, for helping me get to the NFL. I learned a lot from him."

INJURIES: Bucs TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) practiced again Wednesday but still has not been cleared for contact, coach Lovie Smith said. G Ali Marpet (ankle) and DE Josh Shirley (calf) returned to practice on a limited basis. S Keith Tandy (concussion), DE George Johnson (calf), C Evan Smith (knee) did not practice.

BUCS BITS: S Akeem Davis was re-signed to the practice squad. A spot opened Saturday when rookie LB Josh Keyes was promoted. … DT Gerald McCoy is the Bucs' nominee for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award. The winner will be announced Feb. 6.

Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.

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