Bucs compensate but feel loss of Lavonte David
Lavonte David woke up Sunday morning in the Windy City, hoping for the best. The All-Pro linebacker of the Bucs missed the final two days of practice with a hamstring injury, but Tampa Bay’s leading tackler still thought he had a shot at lining up against the Bears.

“I had to be a spectator today,’’ said David, who hadn’t missed a game going back to his high school days in Miami. “I talked with our guys and the decision was made. Our staff works in my best interest. I listened to them and I went with it.’’

Tampa Bay opened the game with five defensive backs, with Danny Lansanah shifting over to David’s weak-side position. When the Bucs went to their standard 4-3 alignment, Orie Lemon, signed as a free agent a month ago, manned the strong-side spot. “Playing without Lavonte was a big hit for our defense today,’’ Lansanah said. “But still, we have the next-man-up mentality around here and we can’t allow a dropoff on our play.’’

David had averaged 13 tackles in his previous seven games and Bucs coach Lovie Smith said his team compensated well without an ascending talent who has been compared to a young Derrick Brooks.

“Of course we’re going to miss Lavonte,’’ said Smith, “but injuries are always a part of it. The Bears lost a great linebacker in Lance Briggs. I felt that the guys stepped up. Danny Lansanah had to move to the wheel position without a whole lot of work and he did a pretty good job. Orie Lemon stepped up, too.’’