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Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David evoke Sapp, Brooks

When Derrick Brooks was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last Saturday night, he relayed the story of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy's 1995 expectations of a "Mean" Joe Greene-Jack Ham tandem for Brooks and Warren Sapp.

Two decades later, Brooks told USA Today that defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and weak-side linebacker Lavonte David -- both first-team All-Pros in 2013 -- can have a "very similar" type of impact in Tampa.

When McCoy heard Brooks' speech, he immediately texted David: "Why can't that be us? ... We can't ask for a better coach, a better situation. Two better mentors."

"They put that defense on their backs," McCoy added. "That's what Lavonte and I are working for. We want that Super Bowl title this year."

New coach Lovie Smith wasted no time this offseason in identifying McCoy as the most valuable player on his roster.

"Make no mistake, this is Gerald McCoy's team, his defense," Smith said Monday. "Gerald sets the pace. ... I want Gerald and Lavonte to be their own guys. And you want them to try and be better than Derrick and Warren."

Just last week, Smith also acknowledged David holds the key to the Tampa 2 defense.

"I think in general just by position, our best player is going at the Will linebacker position," Smith said. "There's a reason why Derrick is going into the Hall (of Fame). ... That has to be our special player and that's the case with Lavonte David."

David is one of the most underappreciated stars in today's NFL. He and McCoy were the NFL's premier linebacker-defensive lineman tandem last season. There's little doubt the talent is there to go on a multi-year run to match the heights of the Brooks-Sapp era.

The question is whether Smith can find his version of John Lynch, Ronde Barber and Simeon Rice to complement this All Pro tag-team.

The latest Around The League Podcast makes sense of Andy Dalton's new contract and takes a look at the Giants' evolving backfield.

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