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Pewter Report’s Jim Flynn recently caught up with Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Dewayne White after one of the team’s organized team activities at One Buc Place.
White, who originally entered the NFL with the Bucs as a second-round draft pick out of Louisville, got off to a shaky start in Tampa Bay back in 2003 by reporting to the team’s first offseason mini-camp out of shape.
However, the 6-foot-2, 273-pound White has turned it around since then. In fact, he’s played in 44 career games (five starts) and notched 68 tackles, nine sacks, two forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and five passes defensed during his three-year career.
Although he hasn’t managed to unseat starting defensive ends Simeon Rice and Greg Spires, White has proven to be a valuable contributor and reserve player by playing anywhere along the defensive line.
Last season, White recorded 30 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and two passes defensed in 16 regular season games (one start). His biggest contributions came in back-to-back weeks when White blocked Atlanta’s potential game-winning 28-yard field goal attempt in Week 16, and then went on to recover a fumble he caused by sacking the quarterback and returned it for a touchdown in Week 17 against the Saints. The Bucs won both of those games, which in turn helped the team win the 2005 NFC South division title.
So, does White plan on challenging for a starting job this season? Where does he feel most comfortable playing along the defensive line? What part of Simeon Rice’s game is White trying to implement into his own this season? How does White plan on handling the 2006 season, which is the final year of his contract with the Bucs? What does White think of new Bucs defensive line coach Jethro Franklin? Read The PewterReport.com Conversation with Dewayne White to get answers to those questions and more.
How is your offseason treating you thus far, Dewayne? “it’s been good, man. I’m looking to have another promising year. I’ve just been working hard with the new coach [Jethro Franklin] and spending some time in the weight room to get stronger. That’s what it’s been like so far.”
You weren’t a starter last year, but that didn’t stop you from being a pretty productive player, and you finished the season quite strong with the blocked field goal against Atlanta and the sack/fumble recovery for a touchdown against the Saints. Those two plays, along with the 2005 NFC South division championship, had to give you something solid to build on this offseason. “Man, I have a lot to work on. I missed a sack in that Atlanta game. I kind of screwed up. I learned that I can’t just go in there and try to kill the quarterback. Coach [Marinelli] told me, ‘Hey, you’ve missed so many sacks already.’ I said, ‘Okay, I’m not even going to try to kill the quarterback anymore. Now I’m going to try and get that ball out of his hands and into mine.’ Hey, that’s what happened. The next time I beat the guy. I just got in there and knocked the ball out of his hands and came up with it. That’s what I’m working on this offseason. No more trying to take the quarterback’s head off. I just want to get him down and try to get the ball out. It’s a lot like the art that Simeon Rice has perfected around here. He never really tries to kill the quarterback. He just tries to knock the ball out and get the sack. That’s what I really need to concentrate on. I’m usually just so angry that I’m looking to take the quarterback’s head off and take him out of the game, but I’ve learned that all of that isn’t really necessary.”
You’ve earned a significant amount of playing time over the past few seasons, especially last year, but you have a couple of talented guys in Simeon Rice and Greg Spires standing in your way of securing a starting job. What do you feel you have to do to unseat one of those guys for a starting job? “It’s not my call, to be honest with you. As much as I feel I deserve to start with all of the things I do and the plays I’ve been able to make, if it doesn’t translate into a starting role, I’m just going to continue to work on finding my place on this team wherever it may be, whether it’s special teams or third defensive end or a situational-type player. My goal is to one day start at defensive end. Right now I’m out here working on doing my best to make that happen.”
People sometimes talk about running backs, and how the more carries they receive the more they seem to find their groove. Even though you’re a defensive lineman, can you relate to that sentiment? I mean, how difficult is it for you to have to come off the bench and be asked to get after the quarterback after sitting on the sideline for several minutes or plays? “I can definitely relate. Man, the more you get out there the more you get a feel for the offensive tackle. If you’re only out there for one or two plays, you really don’t know what the tackle is vulnerable to. I just go out there and hope that the one bullet I have is enough to take down the quarterback. Like you said, the more you get out there and play the more you feel comfortable rushing the quarterback.”
Dewayne, you’re a guy that can play pretty much anywhere along the Bucs defensive line. Do you have a preference in terms of which defensive end or defensive tackle position you feel most comfortable playing? “I can rush the quarterback from pretty much anywhere. I have a sack from all four positions. Running downs are a little more difficult because I’m not as big as some of our other guys, but I feel most comfortable at both end spots. I’ll play either one. It doesn’t matter.”
Talk to me about the loss of [defensive line coach] Rod Marinelli. He obviously was a guy who was well liked around here, especially amongst the defensive linemen. What kind of impact has his loss had on the Bucs defense, and what are your impressions of new defensive line coach Jethro Franklin? “We’re going to miss certain things about Rod, but we also have to welcome our new coach, who brings new things to the table. We can keep with us what Rod was able to instill in us, and now we are open-minded to what Coach Franklin has brought to us. If we do that, we’ll become better players for it.”
Isn’t it a pretty tall order for Coach Franklin to come in here and try to succeed Rod Marinelli and earn the respect of the players, especially a veteran-laden group like the one the Bucs have along the defensive line? “Well, Coach Franklin isn’t coming in here and barking orders at us. He’s open to listening to us and he understands that this is a veteran group that you just can’t come in and demand a bunch of stuff from. He’s a great coach and he understands that. Everyone respects him because he didn’t come in here that way. He’s already won us over.”
Dewayne, this is the final year of your contract with the Bucs, and contract years obviously are pretty important for the players in this league. How will the contract year impact what you’re trying to do on the football field this season? “I’ll be thinking about it. I know that this could be my last year with the Bucs. The important thing for me to remember is to just give it my all, and that the rest of the things will fall into place. I need to continue to do what I’ve been doing, which is coming out here and working hard. When the season starts, I’m going to go out there and make plays, and after that, let the chips fall where they may. I love Tampa and I really don’t want to go anywhere. But at the same time I know that it’s a possibility. I mean, that’s the league we play in.”
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