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Season in review: Linebackers

TAMPA, Fla. -- We continue our position-by-position breakdown of the 2014 season with the linebackers.

Coach Lovie Smith likes to call Lavonte David the best outside linebacker in the game. He might be right. David is at least among the best players at his position. He’s a sideline-to-sideline tackling machine. But David would get more recognition and honors if he made more big plays.

Mason Foster started at middle linebacker and did not have a great season. Injuries were part of the reason for that. But Foster isn’t a great fit in the Tampa 2 defense where the middle linebacker has a lot of pass-coverage responsibilities. The coaching staff doesn’t seem sold on Foster. He can become a free agent and it seems unlikely he’ll be back.

Danny Lansanah seemingly came out of nowhere to provide one of the brightest stories of the season. Lansanah beat out Jonathan Casillas for the starting job on the strong side early in the year and that allowed the Bucs to trade Casillas. Lansanah showed the ability to make big plays with three interceptions. He also showed versatility, playing all three linebacker spots due to injuries.

Orie Lemon also got some playing time late in the season due to injuries. He wasn’t as productive as Lansanah, but the coaching staff seemed to like what it saw out of Lemon.