It seems so far this offseason the NFC South teams have had themes. If you want big contract extensions, head to Atlanta, if you want recovery and development, it’s in Carolina. Unfortunately for Tampa, theirs is injuries. This time it is defensive leader Lavonte David, who went under the knife yesterday for a minor procedure to heal a slight tear in his meniscus.
The prognosis is ok for the Buccaneers, David is expected to be fit for the season opener against the 49ers on 8th September. However, it is hardly ideal preparation for a team looking to go undergo a transformation under new coach Bruce Arians, especially for a defence that struggled in most major categories in 2018. Not only that, they have lost a lot of their experience since then by releasing Gerald McCoy, losing Kwon Alexander in free agency and with Jason Pierre-Paul expected to be out most of the season. The one player they would have wanted to have had on the field throughout training camp would be Lavonte David, as the leader of the defence.
David has looked good in training camp as the Will Linebacker as the Buccaneers look to move towards a 3-4 scheme under incoming Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles. Now it is likely David will be held out of practice until the start of the season to allow maximum rehabilitation. While it is a slight tear, it is a tough injury to recover from and it will be worth monitoring if David makes a slow start to the season, or even if it hampers the Linebacker all season.
The question is whether this will hinder or hep rookie Linebacker Devin White. One would assume that DC Bowles hoped that White could develop alongside David to improve understanding the game at a pro level. Now this will have to be done solely in the film room without practical lessons on the field. The flip side of that is that White is expected to be the leader of the defence, now he is being thrown in at the deep end as a defacto defensive captain. And with a new coaching regime in Tampa, leadership from the old guard rather than the new could be beneficial in the long term. After all the Bucs have averaged 5.5 wins a season since David was drafted.
David’s injury is far from ideal for the Bucs but crucially it looks unlikely to impact the regular season and see Tampa relying on Corey Nelson as a starter or use their limited cap space on a replacement. Now Vernon Hargraves, Ndamukong Suh and Devin White will need to step up on a defence sorely lacking experience.
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