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Bucs’ linebacker Lavonte David thinks defense will be improved

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When people talk about the Tampa Bay Bucs, they usually concentrate on the offense.

Second-year quarterback Jameis Winston, or running back Doug Martin, or wide receiver Mike Evans get a lot of discussion. But if the Bucs are going to be a better team than last year’s 6-10 record, it will be because of a fortified defense. The Bucs’ defense was only the 26th best scoring defense in the league last year, allowing 26.1 points per game.

Good news, then, that the defense is winning its share of battles.

“I don’t know, it’s all competitive out there,” said linebacker Lavonte David. “They win some; we win some. We’re jaw jabbing back and forth; I’m sure you all [are] hearing it out there. But that’s the main thing; it’s still competing. You’re competing out there, but you’re competing with your teammates. Those are the guys that you got to go to battle with on Sundays, so, for now, you can compete against each other, but when it’s time to go against an opponent we’re all together.”

David said that the Bucs are making more use of him this season than a year ago.

“It’s just the way the defense is,” David said. “At certain times and certain situations I may be used on the blitz, I may be used in pass coverage or I may be used in zone drops. But I feel like I’m more involved in certain things now, I’m getting a lot of action, getting a lot of plays thrown my way and stuff like that. So it’s pretty good, I like to take on challenges like that, and it helps me get better.”

David said he had been impressed with longtime teammate Gerald McCoy.

“I notice it a lot,” David said. “Nine-on-seven, 10-run drills, watching it on film, his get-off is amazing. His get-off and motor is amazing, he’s disrupting plays in the backfield, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We expect Gerald to do things like that, and it’s [not] going unnoticed, everybody sees it, and we expect him to do that down in and down out, and he’s doing it. Great things to come for us this season – a nod to him.”

David also had praise for new defensive end Robert Ayers.

“He’s dominant as well,” David said. “We’ve got a tandem of guys; (defensive end) Noah (Spence), Rob, ‘Mac’ (McCoy). We took a loss with [defensive end] George (Johnson) today, I’m not sure how serious his injury was, but he’s been doing good. You’ve got [defensive lineman] Will (Gholston), those guys have been working their tails off, they’re getting the pass rush and things in and also they’re doing a great job of stopping the run.”

In all, David said the communication is better, which has led to more takeaways.

“The communication aspect,” David said. “Knowing where guys are supposed to be, knowing what you’re supposed to do when a certain defense is called, talking, communicating, things like that. Knowing what you’re going to get from the offense, so when you learn your defense, you got to learn what offense can beat you with and things like that. So it gives us a chance to anticipate what we’re going to get hit with.”

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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