Lavonte David: ‘Winston Is Everything That Was Advertised’

Perhaps you feel like you had a great weekend. Well, you didn’t.

At least not in comparison to Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David.

No, compared to David, anything that happened to you was merely good; we’re going to reserve “great” for David, who signed a five-year, $50.25 million extension with Tampa Bay.

“Oh man, it feels good,” David said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show, downplaying the greatness of the extension. “It shows that this team has faith in me and it shows that I’ve done what I’m supposed to do and I got what I deserved. It’s pretty good. It’s real humbling, and I’m thankful for it. . . . Me and the organization was already in talks, and we were just trying to see eye-to-eye on the same thing. We finally got it done.”

Smart move by Tampa. Over the last two seasons, David, 25, has 291 tackles, 8.0 sacks, five interceptions and six forced fumbles.

David was the 58th pick in the 2012 Draft. How does someone go from an undersized, late-second-round pick to arguably the best player in the NFL at his position?

“Just always having that chip on my shoulder,” the 6-1 David said. “Being told I can’t play in this game as a linebacker, being told that I’m not suitable for the position that I’m playing – all it does is add a chip on my shoulder and just motivates me more to try as hard as I can and make sure that every time I walk off the field I don’t have my head down and knowing that I gave it my all. The love for the game just helped me do that.”

David has been one of few bright spots for Tampa Bay in recent years. From the MRSA outbreak to the Greg Schiano disaster to the Josh Freeman drama to the 2-14 season under Lovie Smith, it’s been in a comedy of errors for the Bucs.

What’s the mood in the locker room now?

“Oh, right now it’s all smiles,” David said. “We haven’t had any distractions. We got last year out of the way. Now we’re looking forward to the future. We’re looking forward to this upcoming season. Everybody’s all smiles, competitive nature is there on the field, everyone is going out there and having fun, everybody’s eager to learn, everybody’s putting (in) the extra work that they need to put in to be the best and do the best that they can to help this team – everybody around this organization sees that. That’s real eye-opening and exciting. This year should be a fun year for this. We have the right guys in place on both sides of the ball, and we’re looking forward to the upcoming season.”

One of those players, of course, is Jameis Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. Doug Gottlieb’s question: Does Winston have it? You know, the “it factor.” As Gottlieb observed, you can fool fans, and sometimes you can fool scouts and coaches. But you can never fool players.

So, does Winston have it?

“Yes, he has it,” David said. “I’m not just saying that because he’s my teammate. But yes, he has it. He’s everything that was advertised – from his personality, him being a great kid, him always being happy and energetic and loving the game and always thanking God for giving him the opportunity to go out there and practice the way he has been doing is real good. As far as on the field, he’s running with the 1s and he’s making the game real competitive for us on defense. He’s making us work for everything we get. He’s putting the ball in the right places (and) finding his open guys.”

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