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Greg Spires vs. Dewayne White

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be heading into training camp this year with the same starting defensive line that they had for all of last season, but they could leave camp with a new starting defensive end.

He’s been attempting to work his way into the starting lineup since 2003, but 2006 could be the year Bucs DE Dewayne White unseats Greg Spires, who has started for the past four seasons, for the starting left end position.

The 6-foot-2, 273-pound White finished last season strong and has carried that momentum into this offseason. White finished the 2005 regular season with several key plays, including a game-saving blocked field goal against the Atlanta Falcons in overtime on Christmas Eve, and against the New Orleans Saints one week later, where he recorded a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.

A second-round pick out of Louisville, White is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, which means he’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2006 season.

Although he didn’t start last year, White still was productive, recording 30 tackles and three sacks. He’s notched 9.5 sacks in four seasons with the Bucs while serving as a speed rusher at both the under tackle and defensive end positions.

Spires, who is entering his ninth season in the NFL, ranked second on the team in sacks with four in 2006. However, his sack total still was down from the eight quarterback takedowns he had recorded in 2005.

The 6-foot-1, 265-pound Spires entertained the idea of restructuring his contract this offseason, but that never came to fruition. However, with a $3.467 million cap value and a roster bonus of $1 million scheduled to come his way in 2007, the Bucs could find themselves in a situation where they are unable to keep both Spires and White in 2007.

While he’s not flashy, Spires is a player the Bucs refer to as the “The Crane” because of his consistent and solid play against the run. Spires will be a tough player to unseat because of his veteran savvy and experience, but the Bucs are itching to find a place for White in the starting rotation since he’s shown a knack for making plays.

Advantage: Greg Spires



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