“There are not a lot of players like Derrick Brooks,” Smith said in the Bradenton Herald. “It’s not even fair to compare some guys in that way, but Lavonte David, he has a chance. He’s that younger version coming up.”
David, at 6'1" and 233 pounds, is a third-year pro. In Smith’s 4-3 alignment, David can utilize his speed and take advantage of his ability to close in on a play, making up for his lack of size.
Although he wasn’t selected to the Pro Bowl last year, David enjoyed a stellar season. He boasted 145 tackles (second among NFL OLB’s) in 2013, had seven sacks, five interceptions and forced two fumbles. His exploits earned him AP All-Pro honors.
“There are a lot of things I can improve on, and I want to be ready for our new defense that will open up things more. It should be fun,” David said.
Excited about Smith's new defensive scheme, David also appreciates the hiring of former Buccaneer and five-time Pro Bowler, Hardy Nickerson, who is working with the team’s linebackers. Nickerson previously worked with Smith in Chicago (2007) as the Bears linebackers coach, tutoring Lance Briggs, a Pro Bowl selection for the Bears that year.
“This defense is giving me an opportunity to play faster and see the whole field, and learn what everybody is doing,” David said. “I am still in a position where I can make plays. Coach Nickerson is always getting guys amped up and when you see that from coach it raises your level. His best advice is never get complacent. From a guy who played 15 years in this league, you get a chance to pick his brain, and that’s a great privilege.”
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Tags: Bradenton Herald, Buccaneers, Derrick Brooks, Football, Hardy Nickerson, Lavonte David, Lovie Smith, NFL, Pro Bowl, Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Buccaneers