Monday, December 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Bucs rookie linebacker Lavonte David shows good hands, timing

MIAMI — Lavonte David grew up mere miles from where his NFL journey began Friday night.

Playing in front of 25 family members at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, the former Miami Northwestern High standout and Bucs second-round pick burst onto the scene in his first NFL action.

He made his presence felt against the Dolphins, notching a tackle for loss and an interception, but most important, he hardly seemed like a wide-eyed rookie in his first professional game.

The increase in the speed of the game barely fazed David, who started at weakside linebacker and could very well be a fixture there for a long time.

"It was definitely faster," he said. "But I kind of got used to it. As the game went on, I just adjusted."

Did he ever.

David showed himself to be the sideline-to-sideline pursuer he was at Nebraska. It's one thing to show that in practice, quite another to translate it to game day at this level.

"He's done a real good job since he started," coach Greg Schiano said. "And I think he continued to do it (Friday). … He flew around out there, and he looked comfortable. I was happy for him to do it in his hometown, too."

David's interception, off starter Matt Moore in the second quarter, came after defensive tackle Frank Okam tipped the ball. From there, it was up to David to react quickly and show off his skills as a pass defender. It's an area where the Bucs think he will excel.

It seems they are on to something.

"I want to thank the D-line for the tip," David said. "The ball was in the air for a long time. It was right there, and I just had to get to it."

He made it all sound routine. And watching David, it looked that way. The Bucs are counting heavily on the rookie to be a playmaker on a defense that needs more of that.

To let him tell it, there's more to come.

"This was Step 1," he said. "I have a lot more to go."

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @HolderStephen.

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