The defensive end has stepped up in preseason games, atoning for poor showings in practice.
By JOANNE KORTH
Published August 9, 2003
[Times photo: Bill Serne]
Dewayne White, (70), sacked Dolphins quarterback Brian Griese for a 10-yeard loss. Here he's shown during tpractice at training camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista.
MIAMI - Nothing is official yet. Games played in August do not count toward the regular-season standings. Yardage, touchdowns, tackles - none of it counts, really.
But tell that to Dewayne White.
The rookie defensive end got his beefy hands on an NFL quarterback for the first time Friday, pulling Miami's Brian Griese to the ground in the first half of the Bucs' 20-19 victory.
His first sack.
It was not official, but it was special.
"It feels good," said White, a 6-foot-2, 273-pounder. "Even though it's preseason and it doesn't count toward the career sacks and all that, the first one is special. It's something to build on."
The second-team defense saw its first action early in the second quarter and White wasted little time getting his name into the statistical report.
On his third play, a first down for Miami at its 40, White not only stopped running back Travis Minor for no gain, but jarred the ball loose.
On the next play, the Dolphins faced second and 9 from their 41 when White, lined up on the left side, had the good fortune to find only a running back between him and Griese. With a quick move to the outside, White went around the back and headed for the pocket. He dropped Griese for a 10-yard loss. "It was an easy sack," said White, 23. "It was almost too easy."
Sacks are nothing new to White. In college, he was one of the nation's elite pass rushers, setting Louisville and Conference USA records with 37.5 sacks in 38 games. He also set a Cardinals record with 56.5 tackles for loss. Those credentials prompted the Bucs to spend their first draft choice on the Marbury, Ala., native, taking White in the second round with the 64th overall pick.
Yet when White reported for rookie camp, he was woefully out of shape. A disappointment during offseason workouts, White worked hard to condition himself before training camp.
When practice began, White was in shape, but again stood out for the wrong reason.
During a pass-rush drill, he grew frustrated when offensive linemen grabbed his jersey, so he took it off and threw it on the ground. His teammates were flabbergasted, including Pro Bowl defensive tackle Warren Sapp.
"I didn't know," White said, smiling. "When they were holding my jersey in school I just took it off. They're like, "You can't do that here.' So, I've had some bumps and bruises along the way; it was a learning experience. And now I know not to take my jersey off. They want to know who you are."
White is taking care of that.
In two preseason games, White has stood out for all the right reasons, earning praise from coach Jon Gruden after the Bucs' victory against the Jets in Tokyo and recording four tackles, one assist, a sack and forced fumble against the Dolphins. One tackle came 15 yards downfield.
"I felt more comfortable," White said. "The first game I got some of the jitters out. I'm just trying to play up to my potential.
"This game I just went out and played my game. I think I did pretty good. And there's a lot more to me than I showed out there, so hopefully I'll just keep putting it all together."