Lavonte David was on the field for every Bucs defensive snap because of his physical abilities.
But he got the dot on the back of his helmet because his coaches trusted him.
The rookie linebacker was responsible for relaying signals from the coaches to the huddle, wearing the radio-receiver in his helmet (which is marked with a green dot sticker) that allows coaches to talk to him.
“Obviously, that meant a lot,” David told Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com. “It puts a lot of pressure on your shoulders.”
Having him call the signals wasn’t the initial plan, as the weakside linebacker hadn’t played in the middle. But his ability to cover ground made him too important to the defense to take off the field, so they put the responsibility on him.
“I’m not going to lie. I’d never been in that position before,” David said. “Guys just told me to calm down so everyone could get the call loud and clear.”
It appears to have worked, as he led a defense which allowed the Panthers just 10 rushing yards and 10 points, with the team picking off Cam Newton twice in the Bucs’ win last week.
“It’s hard to do that in college without the pressure of having to face a guy like Cam and all the dynamics he brings to their offense,” Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “Lavonte never backed down once. He went out and did his job. . . .
“What he did Sunday was amazing to see from a rookie. It just shows he’s going be around here for a long time.”
Along with McCoy and rookie safety Mark Barron, the Bucs have young playmakers at every level of the defense, giving them a solid foundation. And knowing David’s able to handle the pressure of setting the defense makes it that much easier to build.