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Stylez White igniting Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defensive line

TAMPA — The trade of first-round flop Gaines Adams to the Bears officially was for a second-round draft pick in 2010. But for the Bucs, the exchange also has allowed them to spotlight the player who was renamed later.

The former Greg White, who legally changed his first name to Stylez midway through last season, took over for Adams at right defensive end after Adams was traded last month. In three starts, he has three sacks and leads the team with 18 quarterback pressures.

"He's been playing at a high level,'' coach Raheem Morris said. "His motor, his rush skills, playing the run. How he's been practicing, first of all, has been really impressive. I don't know if it's the trade of Gaines. Maybe it's having more opportunities. … You never know when you'll have your time to shine, and he's having his time to shine now."

White, 30, took more than a few detours in his career before landing a starting job with the Bucs.

A seventh-round pick of the Texans in 2002, he had brief stops with five other teams and the Orlando Predators of the defunct Arena Football League before coaxing a tryout with the Bucs during training camp in 2007. He was recommended by Predators coach Jay Gruden, the brother of then-Bucs coach Jon Gruden.

But White's sack total went from eight in 2007 to five in 2008. The Adams trade has ignited him.

"For me, selfishly, I wanted to play as well as I can so you could all forget about that whole trade or whatever," White said. "It's just more opportunities … to make plays, and I've tried to capitalize on them."

White led a charge of six sacks by the Bucs on Sunday against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. His charge was so hard that he injured a shoulder during the game, hasn't practiced since and is listed as doubtful for Sunday against Miami.

Even with that sack performance, the Bucs are tied for 19th in the league, with 17.

In many ways, White epitomizes what the Bucs' defensive line has become: a collection of spare parts.

Jimmy Wilkerson, 28, a sixth-round pick by Kansas City, leads the team with 51/2 sacks in his first extensive playing time as a starter.

Veterans Chris Hovan, 31, and Ryan Sims, 29, have been solid, if not spectacular, tackles. General manager Mark Dominik has raided other team's practice squads and the waiver wire to fortify the line.

He picked up Tim Crowder, 24, a second-round pick by Denver in 2007 who played under Bucs defensive coordinator Jim Bates. He also plucked defensive end Michael Bennett, 24, off the Seahawks' practice squad. Each had a sack against the Packers.

"It's just a great opportunity to be back playing something you love to play," Crowder said. "It's a matter of knowing the defense from coach Bates and being more comfortable with everything. … My rookie year, my special teams coach told me that the only players that stay long in this league are the productive ones, and he was right about that. If you're producing, you'll find a job."

The Bucs also are bullish on the futures of two rookies, defensive tackle Roy Miller, a third-round pick from Texas, and defensive end Kyle Moore, a fourth-rounder from Southern Cal.

Miller, 22, is part of the rotation and has 21 tackles and two sacks. Moore, 23, who had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee this season, was active for the first time Sunday.

The Bucs struggle against the run, a major concern heading into Sunday's game at Miami. Tampa Bay is yielding an average of 163.4 rushing yards per game, 30th in the league.

White's renewed commitment is a good start to fixing that. Morris used to call him A.I., a nod to the NBA's Allen Iverson because White did not like to practice.

"He was not particularly fond of practice," Morris said. "And I don't know if he likes to do it now, but he's forcing himself to. Even last week, his coach got on him a little and said, 'Hey, you didn't practice as hard as you did the week before.' Which was to keep him motivated, to keep him going.

"The better he practices, the more production he gets. It's evident, and it's clear, and it's right out there for you guys."

Stylez White igniting Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defensive line 11/13/09 [Last modified: Saturday, November 14, 2009 8:59am]
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