When Derrick Brooks joined the Buccaneers in 1995, Hardy Nickerson was a veteran in the linebacker room and helped groom the eventual Hall-of-Famer. Nickerson, now the Bucs' Linebackers Coach, is watching a similar situation, with his standout linebacker mentoring a talented rookie.
Lavonte David led the NFL in tackles per game in 2014 and has been working with Kwon Alexander, the Bucs' rookie middle linebacker, since he arrived this spring. Alexander's rare athletic ability is well-documented, so David's been spending significant time helping the rookie adjust mentally to playing in the NFL.
"I'm just trying to help him understand the concept part of this defense," David said on Bucs Total Access on Monday. "Learning who he's working with, who he has to help out on certain defenses or who we have to back him up on certain defenses. I think he's understanding that pretty well. We all have a lot more work to do on that part but it's coming along.
"We started off working with each other during OTAs and training camp and now it's picking up during the season. That's something that we've got to start thriving off of – just helping each other and making each other better."
Alexander was one of the NFL's top-performing rookies during the preseason, playing so well that NFL Media's Bucky Brooks predicted that he will win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award this season. But there has been an adjustment. Alexander played outside linebacker in college at LSU and was moved inside in Tampa Bay. With the new position comes a new set of responsibilities, particularly calling out the defense's plays.
"Guys, especially D-linemen and in the secondary, they want the call right away so that can dissect what they can possibly get in certain situations, down and distance and things like that. A lot of guys are looking at him waiting on the call. They just have to be patient with him and understand that he's getting the call from someone else. I think he handled it real well and he can only get better from here on out."
So far, the two have proven capable to get to the ball carrier. Five players were tied for the team-lead in tackles against the Titans in Week 1 of the regular season. David and Alexander were both among them with five tackles each.