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Lavonte David 'will be remembered in this league' with or without Pro Bowl

Bucs linebacker Lavonte David has 3.5 sacks and 84 combined tackles through 12 games this season. Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

BALTIMORE -- As he's done countless times in his seven-year career, Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David stepped up Sunday and made a play when one needed to be made.

On first-and-10 from the Tampa Bay 43-yard line, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson fumbled a snap and David pounced, recovering it at the Tampa Bay 49 and setting up the Bucs' only touchdown in a 20-12 loss.

It was the 13th time in David's career that he's recovered a fumble, breaking Ronde Barber's franchise record of 12. Against the Ravens, David had 2.0 sacks, as well as a tackle for a loss, three quarterback hits and 12 combined tackles (10 solo) -- one of the few bright spots in an otherwise gloomy game as well as season.

Since 2012, no player at any position has recovered more fumbles than David. He is also one of four active players with at least 20 sacks and 10 interceptions. Despite his production, there's a good chance David won't hear his name called during Tuesday's Pro Bowl announcement, which has largely become a popularity contest.

"It shouldn't happen and it's a shame that it does, but as you can see, it doesn't slow him down," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said.

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter was supportive of David, but acknowledged there are some hiccups, with competition including NFC South rival Luke Kuechly and the likes of Bobby Wagner and Sean Lee.

"I think Lavonte has had another outstanding year. Let's face it, it's going to be tough at his position," Koetter said.

David chased down Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield from the opposite side of the field and knocked the ball loose on a fourth-and-2 in Week 7. It was the type of play Bucs predecessor and Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks would make.

Against the Washington Redskins in Week 10, David left the game with a sprained MCL before returning to play the entire fourth quarter, taking down Adrian Peterson multiple times and recording seven tackles.

"That's Lavonte," McCoy said. "He's the best linebacker in the NFL. It [doesn't] surprise me when he [does] it. I'm not downplaying this game, but he's the best. It's as simple as that."

In 13 games last season, David recorded five fumble recoveries (a league high) and five forced fumbles, second to Jacksonville's Yannick Ngakoue and the most for a linebacker. Through all of those accomplishments, David did not receive a Pro Bowl invite.

Other than earning a Pro Bowl nod in 2015 and first- and second-team AP All-Pro honors in 2013 and 2016, David has been largely ignored when it comes to postseason awards. Much of that lack of recognition is because of the Bucs' struggles (they have had just one winning season with David), lack of national visibility and his quiet manner.

The Pro Bowl snubs also have to do with the fact that 4-3 outside linebackers are not separated from their 3-4 peers, who often generate more sacks versus tackles. David has made a career out of being well-rounded.

"He's gonna be remembered in this league," McCoy said. "It's just sad that he doesn't get the actual recognition. But people know."