David Sets Rookie Mark, Too

Two-hundred-and-fifty-yard rushing days come along about once every 3.3 years in the NFL, so they are sure to steal the headlines when they do occur.

As such, the record-breaking performance by Buccaneers RB Doug Martin was the top story from Tampa Bay’s 42-32 win at Oakland on Sunday, as well it should have been.  Martin’s 251-yard, four-touchdown afternoon unintentionally obscured a big day turned in by another member of Tampa Bay’s 2012 draft class, second-round linebacker Lavonte David.

All David did was lead all defenders and set a Tampa Bay single-game record for rookies with 16 tackles.  The Bucs’ starting weakside linebacker now has 67 stops on the season and is on pace to challenge the franchise rookie record in that category, set at 151 by Hugh Green in 1981.  David’s teammate, starting middle linebacker Mason Foster, had the second-highest mark just last year at 126.

As tackles have long been considered an “unofficial” statistic in the NFL, teams have used different methods for gathering them from season to season.  Often, a team will produce its own tackle totals using numbers generated by its coaching staff’s postgame study of the film.  This was the method long employed by the Buccaneers, but in 2012 the team is going strictly with the numbers generated on game day and compiled by the Elias Stats Bureau for the NFL’s use.

Those statistics have always been there, of course, even when the team used its internally-generated numbers.  Relying on those ESB-gathered stats, here are the top 10 single-game tackle totals in Buccaneer history (well, 11, as David’s game tied for 10th): 

1t. Derrick Brooks Nov. 26, 2000 vs. BUF 20
1t. Derrick Brooks Sept. 30, 2001 at MIN 20
3t. Derrick Brooks Sept. 15, 1996 at DEN 19
3t. Hardy Nickerson Oct. 26, 1997 vs. MIN 19
5. Hardy Nickerson Sept. 11, 1994 vs. IND 18
6t. Derrick Brooks Oct. 18, 1998 vs. CAR 17
6t. Derrick Brooks Nov. 14, 1999 vs. KC 17
6t. Derick Brooks Dec. 7, 1998 vs. GB 17
6t. Barrett Ruud Jan. 3, 2010 vs. ATL 17
10t. Lavonte David Nov. 4, 2012 at OAK 16
10t. Hardy Nickerson Nov. 23, 1997 at CHI 16

As you can see, Derrick Brooks and Hardy Nickerson built quite a wall around the fortress of big Buccaneer tackle games, but David started to crack it Sunday in Oakland.  As it is, he is now just the fourth player in franchise history with a 16-tackle game, as compiled by game-day statistics.  David is a good bet to make further progress on that list because not only is he a sideline-to-sideline playmaker like Brooks and Nickerson before him, but he is already performing like a veteran, just eight games into his NFL career.

“I think what Lavonte’s done is he’s been very consistent from game one all the way through game eight,” said Head Coach Greg Schiano.  “Really, I think he’s playing at a high level, certainly playing ‘un-rookie-like,’ if you will. The way he’s playing, he’s performing well.”

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