The start of phase three for OTAs meant that linebackers Lavonte David and first-round pick Devin White got to practice together for the first time. It was the beginning for a duo that will spend plenty of time on the field together at middle linebacker to work as a group, and for White, the chance to play against NFL veterans.

As David welcomes in a bunch of newcomers to the Bucs’ defense including White, they are all in the same boat, learning Todd Bowles’ defensive scheme. But with a fresh start to this season, David couldn’t help but enjoy the learning process.

“It’s been fun going over installs and things like that,” David said. “There’s a lot of things that different guys can do to put a lot of guys in position, so I’m excited about that. First day out here is real fun, guys are flying around, guys are communicating, guys are talking. I didn’t see any mental errors, I hope there wasn’t, but you never know, you got to go back in the film room and check it out. From what I saw, it was fun to get back out here, guys were flying around here and talking.”

One of the first players to “fly” around the field as David said, was of course, Devin White.

It didn’t take long for him to start off with a bang in front of his veteran teammates during OTAs on Tuesday. White intercepted a pass from Jameis Winston on just the second the play of 11-on-11’s to set the tempo. It was his second straight practice with an interception.

David was thoroughly impressed with seeing White practice for the first time, especially as a rookie playing first string with all veterans around him. It was, in fact, the upbeat White that called plays in the defensive huddle. David could see why their was so much hype around him coming out of school.

“So many LSU guys,” David said. “All of them bring that same type of energy, that certain type of swagger, and we’re happy to have him and he’s happy to be here. He’s more than ready to step in and contribute right away. The first day he’s flying around and talking, and he caught an interception on the second play of practice, so that’s a big positive sign. I’m just happy to be here, and for a rookie to come in here and talk like that, it’s amazing to see. The sky’s the limit for him, definitely.”

With Jason Pierre-Paul out for five to six months and Gerald McCoy’s situation still up in the air, David becomes the de facto leader and most tenured Buc on the defense. It will be up to him and White to be the tandem that helps drive this defense to success.

That’s why when White was drafted by the Bucs, one of the first comments he made was that he wanted to follow David around everywhere, learning from him and getting advice.

“The opportunity to get to learn from him is second to none,” White said of David back at his introductory press conference on April 26th. “I wouldn’t want it any other way. He’s a great player, I think he’s going into his eighth season, he’s a do it all player for this team. Me playing next to him, behind him, whatever these guys see for me, I’m just willing and ready to do it.”

On Tuesday, David got to explain what it meant to him to hear that White would like him as a mentor.

“That means a lot,” David said. “Obviously I’m the longest tenured guy in that room, I’ve been here the longest as an L-B. I feel honored.”

In time David will have plenty of advice for his rookie teammate, but for now they’re still learning this new playbook on the same level at the same time.

“It’s a whole new defense,” David said. “I’m learning like I’m a rookie again also, so me and him are basically coming in at the same time. We’re going to learn together and try to get it right.”

David’s favorite part of this new defense is the fact that he feels his teammates are getting the chance to utilize their best skills in their most advantageous moments.

“Guys are just lining up and playing football,” David said. “Not a lot of pressure on a lot of guys. Guys are given the opportunity to make plays, to use your skill set. We have a lot of great talent on our team, a lot of great athletes out there, so once you get guys going, we’ll be ready.”

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  1. Two practices, two picks, didn’t Brooks lead the team in picks the year we won the S.B.? At any rate, he had some timely ones that season. This scheme change on defense has got to help our offense. We always struggled when we played aggressive 3-4 defenses in the past like the Steelers, and Ravens. Practicing against one every day should help. Jameis always had trouble seeing LB’s when throwing, with White back there every day, he can only push Jameis to get better.

    Rating: +27. From 29 votes.
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  2. David has been our best player on D since he arrived. He’s another lunch pail guy that just works. Although under appreciated nationally when it comes to Pro Bowls and such, Bucs fans know he’s the guy. I’m hoping the change in scheme enables him to showcase more of his talents and get some well deserved and overdue national recognition.

    Rating: +24. From 24 votes.
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    • Agreed, it’s totally ridiculous how little recognition this guy gets from people outside of Tampa.

      Rating: +3. From 3 votes.
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  3. I remember feeling sad when the Bucs missed out on Vilma and Wilfork. Now the Bucs have D. White and feels like history repeats itself but this time in a positive way.

    Rating: +14. From 14 votes.
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  4. David has proven to be a great mentor. Look how well Kwon turned out and he was much more of a project than White is. Can’t wait to see these two on the field together and this aggressive new defense making plays.

    Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
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