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12 December 2014

Buccaneers Quotes: Friday, December 12, 2014

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Over the past two seasons, LB Lavonte David is the only player in the NFL with 250+ tackles, 5+ interceptions and 5+ sacks.
                 
Below is the transcript of Head Coach Lovie Smith’s earlier media availability:
               
HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
 
(Opening statement)
“Injury list: Clinton McDonald and Major Wright were not able to practice today, but everybody else was able to. We talked about Lavonte David a little bit earlier, he’s been good pretty much all of the week. Besides really Clinton, we haven’t ruled anybody out, but when guys don’t practice all week that’s pretty hard. Besides that for the most part, I guess we’ll have everybody available to go.”
                    
(On if playing Carolina for the second time this season will be a test for how the team has improved)
“I definitely think it will and as you mentioned we kind of set the bar the first time we played them and it was also the first game of the season. To see where we are and not necessarily – we kind of know where we are as a football team with our record, but individually how some of our players have improved and see how we’re going to matchup. I would like to think that we improved in quite a few areas and you would definitely like to see that this week during the game.”
 
(On why he believes the team has gotten better since Week One)
“Individually, I think we’ve gotten better. I think we have players that – you can say that to most teams, you get better as you play out the year – but there are some football players that we counted on or we didn’t count on as we started the season. Let’s talk about some of our young players that have a big role right now: Bradley McDougald, I don’t think he played the first game, he’s starting for us now, we like him as a safety. [Jacquies] Smith, he didn’t play at all the first game, his six sacks were about as good some of the outstanding pass rushers that you have in the league. T.J. Fatinikun, nobody for sure knew how to pronounce his name the first time he played, but we all kind of know it a little bit right now. Danny Lansanah and we have some other players that we didn’t know about and as a football team that’s a positive part. On the other side there are some players that we were really counting on to play a little bit better that haven’t. We know quite a bit more about our football team now.
 
(On why he considers linebacker Lavonte David the best outside linebacker in the NFL and why David has not had as many “splash plays” this season)
“The quick answer is I have no idea why. When I say he’s the best outside [linebacker in the league], I’m basing it on coaching the linebackers that I’ve been around and their makeup. I’m basing it on seeing Derrick Brooks every day, seeing Lance Briggs, guys in our system that are Pro Bowlers, Hall of Famers, and how he compares to them right now. And then in the rest of the league as I look around on what the linebackers are doing in the league. Carolina, Luke Kuechly is a heck of a player – he’s a MIKE linebacker, but he has good hands. How many interceptions does he have? Zero. Lavonte, as far as sacks are concerned, we haven’t rushed him an awful lot. But I would be really disappointed if he’s dropped a lot of interceptions. He hasn’t. Some years, the ball doesn’t bounce that way. But again, there’s nothing he can’t do. I really loved him – how can you love somebody when you don’t like them before I got here? I really liked him before I got here. But [I] just love everything that he does now.”
 
(On linebackers playing in a 3-4 scheme that rush the passer being ahead of David in Pro Bowl voting)
“One of the injustices out there is how we do that. For us, those aren’t outside linebackers. You guys got a few minutes? We could talk about this for a while. [Pass-rushing] outside linebackers, those to us are defensive ends – those are rush guys. To me, as I talk about a linebacker, I’m talking about a guy that can play in space, that can rush, that can drop, [play] man coverage, there’s a wide variety of things that we’re asking him to do as opposed to – most of the time when those Pro Bowl ballots go in, you look, ‘OK, how many sacks does he have?’ Outside linebacker. See, that’s not what I’m talking about. Thank God they didn’t hold that against Derrick Brooks. Because Derrick, how many sacks did [he have]? Not a lot of sacks. But a linebacker who can do it all, that’s what we talk about on the outside as our guys, and he’s as good as there is at doing that.”
 
(On some defensive ends playing in 3-4 defensive schemes being listed as linebackers on last year’s Pro Bowl ballot)
“We have a lot of other issues right now – that one’s kind of low down on my list. But it is a big difference between the two on how we see it and what you call it. I guess the money and as you kind of get to – there’s a lot that goes into, I guess, calling those guys linebackers instead of defensive ends. So I’m just going to leave it alone on a Friday afternoon.”
 
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