Fact or fiction: Defense

As we wait for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to open training camp, let’s play a little fact or fiction on the defensive side of the ball:

1. Lavonte David will earn a Pro Bowl berth this season.

Our take: Fact.

Justify it: Let’s be brutally honest here. David should have been selected to the Pro Bowl last season. There was no question he was one of the best outside linebackers in the league, but he was hurt by the fact that Pro Bowl voters leaned toward 3-4 outside linebackers. David still made The Associated Press All-Pro team and that might have eased the snub somewhat. But David can’t be overlooked anymore. He’ll be in the Pro Bowl this season.

2. Da'Quan Bowers will start at least one game at defensive end.

Our take: Fiction.

Justify it: When Bowers was coming out of college, there was a period of time when the consensus was that he would be the first overall pick in the draft. A knee injury caused Bowers to fall out of the first round. The Bucs drafted him in the second round. Bowers will get a fresh start with a new coaching staff. But, to date, Bowers has shown no evidence he’s ready to be a contributor. He could have trouble simply hanging onto a roster spot.

3. Defensive end Michael Johnson will reach double digits in sacks.

Our take: Fact.

Justify it: The Bucs gave Johnson a five-year, $43.5 million contract to come in and give them an outside pass rush to go along with Gerald McCoy on the inside. Johnson was limited to 3.5 sacks in Cincinnati last year. But he had 11.5 in 2012. The Bucs are betting Johnson can get back to his 2012 form.

4. The secondary is better off without Darrelle Revis.

Our take: Fiction.

Justify it: The Bucs got rid of perhaps the best cornerback in the league because he had an astronomical salary and they felt they could spread the money around more efficiently. There’s no way you can subtract Revis and say the secondary will be better. But the secondary won’t be bad. The Bucs got cornerback Alterraun Verner at a reasonable price. They’re hoping either Johnthan Banks or Mike Jenkins can step up at the other cornerback spot. The Bucs will be playing a Cover 2 scheme and Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson give them a decent pair of safeties.

5. This can be a top-10 defense.

Our take: Fact.

Justify it: Heck, this could even be a top-five defense. New coach Lovie Smith is trying to build a defense similar to what the Bucs had back in their glory days. He has two of the most important parts in place in McCoy and David. They fill the roles Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks did back in the day. Some other players are going to have to step up, but Tampa Bay has the nucleus of what could be a very good defense.