When the Buccaneers signed Daryl Smith in March, it was largely seen as a move to add veteran leadership to a young defense. But as Jameis Winston would attest to, leadership, first and foremost, comes by example.
Before Smith, 34, can mentor his teammates, particularly fellow linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander, he has to first earn their trust and respect on the field by proving he can still play at a high level.
“Most definitely, that’s just a part (of being a leader),” said Smith, who credits his longevity to getting rest, eating right and spending time with his family. “People will listen and better understand you if you’re actually doing it instead of just talking about it. Like I said, I’m excited for the opportunity. I just hope we can get off to a good start – which we have (in offseason workouts) – and continue to work.”
Over the last three seasons, Smith has recorded an impressive 197 tackles, nine sacks and 29 pass breakups while starting all 48 games in Baltimore. If he can keep that trend going, now into his 12th year, the Bucs defense should be in much better position from a year ago. His familiarity with Mike Smith, the coordinator he began his career under and played four seasons for in Jacksonville, should make for a relatively smooth transition.
David and Alexander are already using Smith as a tool to learn the defense, something that has impressed the 34-year old linebacker about the men who will line up beside him on Sundays.
“Already, they’re just asking so many questions,” Smith said. “Lavonte has been around for some years and he’s an All-Pro. And Kwon, he’s young but he’s also knowledgeable about the game and so eager to learn. I think it’s a defense that they’ll thrive in.”
In all, Smith is excited not only to work again with Mike Smith, but also Dirk Koetter, special teams coach Nate Kaczor and linebackers coach Mark Duffner, all of who were on the staff in Jacksonville. And his admiration for Bucs players doesn’t end on defense, either.
Asked about Jameis Winston, Smith had one word to describe Tampa Bay’s second-year signal caller.
“Legit,” he said. “Just coming in and watching from afar, the only thing I can say about him is he’s legit.”
Update: Lavonte David spoke at One Buc Place Wednesday, telling reporters that he and second-year linebacker Kwon Alexander have been picking Smith’s brain. With seven years of experience in Mike Smith’s defense, Smith is ahead of the curve, David said, and a great source for information.
“While we’re going over things, he’s throwing his little input in there and every time he (points something out) it’s correct,” David said of Smith. “You can tell he’s played in the league a long time. He’s a laid-back, cool, savvy guy.”
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.
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