4. LAVONTE DAVID HAS SOMETHING TO PROVE
All-Pro linebacker, Lavonte David, is the featured player for Sunday's season opener vs. the Panthers.
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Lavonte David will have an extra chip on his shoulder in 2015. Not that a player who's recorded nearly 300 tackles in the past two seasons needs it.
David recorded 146 tackles in 2014, one more than he did the year before despite played in two fewer games. Prior to the start of the 2014 season, David was selected by his peers as the 35th-best player in the league, regardless of position.
Although he was the only linebacker in the NFL to average double-digit tackles per game in 2014, he was not selected to the Pro Bowl.
It was a decision that Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith didn't agree with.
"He can do it all," Smith said of David. "I get a chance to see him up close and personal. I've seen the linebackers that go to the Pro Bowl, I've had a chance to coach them, I know what they look like and that is definitely the case with him."
Neither did Saints head coach Sean Payton, who is tasked with competing against David twice a year.
"Each year when this Pro Bowl balloting comes out, I look down to see if No. 54 Lavonte David has made it,'' Payton told to the Tampa Bay Times. "I told him this last year. He's as underrated a weakside linebacker in our game. But he's a heck of a football player.''
ESPN's Pat Yasinskas echoed Smith and Payton's thoughts, calling the decision not to select David, "Unfair".
"Why was David once again overlooked when the Pro Bowl selections were announced?" Yasinskas wrote. "It's simple. It also is unfair and shows a flaw in how the Pro Bowl rosters are structured."
Safe to say, No. 54 will be on a mission in 2015.