Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Game Day Spotlight: Lavonte David

LB Lavonte David will make his first NFL start – as a rookie, no less – on Sunday, but the second-round pick from Nebraska says he feels calm and confident heading into the Bucs’ season-opening tilt against Carolina


Day one of a new job – it's a moment that can make anyone nervous.

But most of us don't show up for work in a stadium packed with thousands of screaming fans, nor do we have to deal with a group of opponents dead set on making that first day a waking nightmare.

That's precisely the situation Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie Lavonte David will face as he slots in as the team's starting weakside linebacker on Sunday against Carolina, but the second-round pick from Nebraska says he feels calm and fully equipped for the first real game of his NFL career.

"I think I'm ready," David said. "My teammates have prepared me, my coaches have prepared me, everybody's prepared me. We've got a great supporting cast and everybody helps you keep your head held high, so I just appreciate everybody and I appreciate the coaches for helping me so far, and I'm just looking forward to the first game to see how everything turns out."

The preparation process began the moment David set foot inside One Buc Place this spring and has continued throughout the offseason, training camp and the preseason tune-ups. Countless hours in the film and meeting rooms and numerous repetitions in practice and the teams' preseason games have left David feeling more than comfortable in the Bucs' defensive scheme, mainly due to a singular focus on his own personal responsibilities on each and every play.

"You're never going to be 100 percent, but you're looking for perfection," David said. "Whatever I've got to do, I've just got to take care of my job. That's what [Head] Coach [Greg] Schiano always stresses: just do your job. That's what I'm going to do – just do my job and then everything else will fall into place."

Preparation can only take you so far though, as even the best-laid plans can quickly come to pieces as soon as the opening whistle blows. That's where an even keel and a calm, composed mindset can help, and David says he's ready for whatever challenges his first NFL contest may hold in store for him.

"They always say the pressure will be on you in your first NFL game," David said. "But I don't feel any jitters or anything like that. I'm just looking at it as another competitive contest. The older guys, like Adam Hayward, Quincy Black, all those guys, have been keeping me sane, keeping me up to par on everything, and everything will take care of itself."

Despite his professions of calmness, David did admit – with a bit of a grin – that he'd allow himself a brief moment of exhilaration when he takes the field for the first time in his career. But after that, it's back to business, and David hopes Sunday will be just the first of many days in the office as a productive member of the Buccaneer defense.

"I've never been a real hyper type of guy, but I always made sure I was game-ready," David said. "I've always had some type of excitement in me, but I've never been jumpy or anything like that. When I do walk through the tunnel, I know there's going to be a lot of excitement, but I'm just going to try to calm back down as quickly as I can.

"Starting my first game in the NFL is a dream come true," David said. "Growing up as a kid you always want this moment, and now that the time is here, you've got to take advantage of it."

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