The first of those Buccaneer takeaways came from a familiar source: linebacker Lavonte David. With three minutes left in the first quarter, David caught up with tight end Eric Ebron after a short reception and was able to poke the ball out of Ebron’s grasp. A wild scramble ensued, and after several players on both teams failed to corral the loose ball, David took care of the matter himself, falling on it at Detroit’s 39-yard line.
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Clarke, Glanton and Tandy all give the Buccaneers familiar depth on defense. Clarke was fairly productive as a rotational end, Glanton filled in admirably when Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander were hurt and Tandy has plenty of productive experience as a starter. Glanton and Tandy were also valuable special-teamers last year.
Conte played in all 16 games last season and started 14, contributing 76 tackles, one interception, eight passes defensed and three forced fumbles. He finished third on the team in tackles behind linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander, and only David had more forced fumbles. Conte first joined the buccaneers in 2015 and, over three seasons, has started 38 games and intercepted five passes. Two of the other safeties on Tampa Bay’s 2017 depth chart, Keith Tandy and T.J. Ward, are due to become unrestricted free agents next Wednesday.
The exclamation point on linebacker Lavonte David’s 2017 season is the multiple forced fumbles and fumble recoveries he had this season. He had five of each. David’s five forced fumbles tied for the second-most by any player this year in the NFL. His five fumble recoveries led the league. His 11 career fumble recoveries are the second-most in team history behind only Ronde Barber.
Lavonte David has plenty of accolades to his name. He is a former All-Pro and has been selected to the Pro Bowl. He’s also recorded 139 tackles or more in four of his five NFL seasons. David is coming off of a season where he recorded a career-low 87 tackles, but that doesn’t mean he won’t return to form when the Buccaneers kick off the regular season.
“It’s been different, but sooner or later you get used to it and you don’t pay any attention to it,” linebacker Lavonte David said. “That’s what’s been happening so far. You only see them when they actually come around and you see them but other than that it’s been a really cool experience. Everybody is nice, the staff is nice and everybody has been treating us with respect.”
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In his first game back against the Cardinals in Arizona, David forced not one but two fumbles, recovering one and returning it 21 yards for a touchdown. It was Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer throwing a quick slant to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald who was then quickly taken down by David. The linebacker in turn stripped Fitzgerald of the ball as he made the tackle and scooped the ball up to run it in to the end zone. It was David’s third defensive touchdown of his career. With one more, he will tie for the third-most in franchise history.
Should David return to form in 2017, the Buccaneers’ defense has the potential to cheap Buccaneers jerseys accomplish great things. David, along with Gerald McCoy and Brent Grimes, were selected to various top 100 lists during the offseason. Alexander was on the cusp, while Noah Spence and Vernon Hargreaves look to build on successful rookie campaigns.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may add to their 2018 roster when free agency starts next week, but before that they wanted to make sure some of their own valuable contributors stuck around. On Wednesday, the Buccaneers announced that they have exercised the one-year options remaining on the contracts for tackle Demar Dotson and safeties Chris Conte and Josh Robinson.
The evening began with “Littles”, children served through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay, bowling and hanging out with David, and culminated with the bowling tournament. Buccaneers cheerleaders, Captain Fear, and other members of the Bucs organization were in attendance to support David and his outreach efforts.
He knows that this year’s team is a special one and knows that the crew from NFL Films is capturing some entertaining moments. David can’t say if there’s one particular scene he hopes to see air, but is confident that the final product will be a strong representation of the team.