Quiet by nature, Lavonte David is sure making a lot of noise for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The laid-back rookie linebacker has been wrapping up ball carriers and barking out assignments with equal aplomb for a defense that has excelled against the run during Tampa Bay's 1-3 start.
A second-round draft pick out of Nebraska, David has been entrusted with the green dot on his helmet, responsible for relaying signals efficiently from defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan to teammates.
"He's got a lot on his plate," Sheridan said, "but he's an outstanding player and I think he loves the pressure."
David inherited the communication role that middle linebacker Mason Foster handled as a rookie last season, when the Bucs lost their final 10 games to finish 4-12.
"It would have been a lot easier for me this year with a full offseason, but I feel like the way it's going, if it ain't broke, don't fix it," Foster said. "It's been going good with Lavonte and we've been playing well. I talk to him all the time and I know exactly what he's going through."
If David's extra chores are stunting his growth process, he has a funny way of showing it.
With 33 tackles, David ranks second to Foster (37) for the club lead and is coming off a 14-tackle effort against Washington that included three stops for losses.
"Mason has helped me out a lot," David said. "He told me to stay calm, be loud, be aggressive and make sure everyone gets the signals. I'm not a real talkative guy and this is a big responsibility. It helps you grow up fast. It means a lot to me that they trust me to do it as a rookie. Not everything has been perfect, but I'm working at it."
David was the relay man during a communication breakdown on Washington's final drive, contributing to a 24-22 loss before the bye week.
"He's done a good job of handling the communication even though, like a lot of people, we've had some mistakes, we've had some busts in critical times," Sheridan said.
With the Bucs ahead 22-21 in the final minutes, the Redskins drove 56 yards to a game-winning field goal, capitalizing on Tampa Bay's defensive breakdowns.
Washington's no-huddle offense proved effective as Sheridan and David got their signals crossed on two critical plays – a 20-yard pass to uncovered tight end Fred Davis and a 15-yard run by rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.
"I wish I had those two snaps back, but I learned from it big time,'' David said. "I learned I have to make sure everyone gets the call. It was bad communication and it's on me because I'm the guy yelling the signals out. I've just got to do a better job.
"When we're facing a no-huddle, it's on me to get our guys to the line fast, get everybody set and make sure everyone's on the same page. It didn't happen on those two plays, and it cost us."
While David prepares for Sunday's home matchup against the Chiefs, teammate Roy Miller expressed his confidence in Tampa Bay's emerging defensive leader.
"He's definitely got a tough job, but Lavonte has done so well, so quickly," said the veteran defensive tackle, who didn't practice Thursday due to a sore back. "It reflects the type of young guys we have around here. When you don't have jerks, it's easier to transition into the NFL. When you're a rookie, trying to know what you're supposed to know, you've got to worry about doing your job.
"Now you add making these calls and doing these checks and it really becomes difficult, but Lavonte seems to handle it all. It's been amazing to see. He stepped in like a vet and I'm looking forward to watching him improve as the season goes on. I think he can be a heck of a player."