For many players on this 2-12 Buccaneers team, the end of the 2014 season couldn’t come any faster. But among those guys who haven’t had their best season – and there are a lot – there have been a few surprising standouts on an otherwise underperforming roster.
Aside from Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy on the defense, there are two lesser-known players whose efforts have warranted an opportunity at extended looks, too – Jacquies Smith and Danny Lansanah.
“I’ll say that once you get to the end of the season, you take a deep breath,” said Smith, a defensive end in his first pro season. “But for me right now, I really do wish I was still playing to see how long I could ride this streak out.”
Streaky is a great way to describe Smith’s season. After signing with the Buccaneers in September, he didn’t get his first start until Week 10. Fifteen tackles and 6.5 sacks later, the undrafted Mizzou product has proven to be the team’s most productive edge rusher over the past five games.
But amid all of his personal on-field achievements, the most important thing for him was becoming a permanent fixture on an NFL team. After playing in four different cities during his first three years, it appears Smith has found a home in Tampa.
“Just being here and playing with the guys, it’s always a great feeling,” Smith said. “This year’s been totally different for me career-wise, so just being in the locker room, being one of the guys and going out there and producing has been a lot of fun for me.”
As for Lansanah, the journeyman linebacker got his first start in Tampa Bay in Week 4. Since then he’s contributed with an impressive 76 tackles, three interceptions and two touchdowns.
Lansanah’s season has been one of the better stories in the NFL, and although he wishes he could continue adding to it in January, he has a lot to look forward to in the coming years.
“It would’ve been great going on to the playoffs,” Lansanah said. “But that’s not the hand we were dealt this year, and it’s unfortunate, but all we can do is get better and look forward to next year.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pleasant surprises indeed. That’s how most teams become successful. It’s not just the high round draft choices. It’s the “diamonds in the rough” that are the measure of a team’s talent evaluators. It’s guys like Donald Penn, Shelton Quarles and Karl Williams who come from nowhere to become major contributors.
I have simply got to find out more about J. Smith. How could a guy that is averaging better than a sack per start end up going undrafted and bounce around teams in this day and age where pass rushers are so highly coveted? What were his numbers at Mizzou? Was he regularly injured in college or the NFL? Did he have off the field issues? Was he playing with Aldon Smith and get overlooked somehow? Mizzou was my favorite college to get linemen from prior to J. Smith so now I’m even more of a believer.
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