TAMPA — All season long, he never changed his routine. Stay at home, go to work at the Bucs’ training center and then return home. The only other place he went was to the stables to check on his horses.When trainer Bobby Slater called Devin White a couple weeks ago to tell the Bucs linebacker he had COVID-19, he thought it was just a false positive.“They know I’m not outside, like, you know, going out to the bar or nothing,” White said. “I’m just, like, go to work, go home, go by the barn or something and nobody is at the barn, obviously. They’re like, ‘We’ll just check again and hopefully it’s a false test,’ but I kept testing positive.”White missed the regular-season finale against the Falcons. He planned to rejoin his team for the NFC wild-card game at Washington. Then fate intervened when the NFL scheduled it for Saturday, the day before he was cleared to play.Linebacker Kevin Minter played well in White’s place, recording nine tackles against the Falcons and deflecting a pass that was intercepted in the 31-23 win over Washington.“But he’s not Devin,” coach Bruce Arians said. “Bringing Devin’s passion, his energy (and) his speed ― hopefully he can get after the quarterback some like he’s been doing so well. You’re bringing back one of the top players in the league.”White was back in the saddle again on Wednesday. A few minutes past 11 a.m., he walked onto the Bucs’ practice field and exchanged a few hugs with teammates.If White can wrap his arms around Saints quarterback Drew Brees a few times in Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game, the Bucs may find themselves 60 minutes from Super Bowl 55.It’s hard to quantify what White means to the Bucs’ defense. He leads them with 140 tackles and is second on the club with nine sacks. He had hoped to eclipse the 145 tackles Lavonte David had in 2013, his second year in the NFL.“I was trying to beat his second-year tackle thing, just a little inside thing between me and him,” White said. “And I missed the last game, so I knew I wasn’t going to be close.“We just kept trying to do the right thing and make sure I was okay physically, because more than football, they wanted me to be okay.”The only heartache White felt was not being with his teammates. Inside linebackers coach Mike Caldwell gave him a few assignments when he watched the games at home on television.“I was out there just trying to be another set of eyes for the coaches,” White said. “The first game when I didn’t play against Atlanta, my coach gave me an assignment to just text him and tell him what I’d seen at halftime and just kind of be another ear for him ... just keeping my mind on football as the game was going on, and I think it worked pretty well for me.“I was locked in. I still felt part of the team.”During what White called “my stupid vacation,” he made sure to run and lift weights.“I felt even better in practice (Wednesday), probably because I got fresh legs,” White said.There’s no question that White can transform the Bucs’ defense into one that could play in the Super Bowl.The postseason is about playmakers. Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul excel at rushing the passer. David is a sideline-to-sideline tackling machine. White can do both as well as any player in the league.Following the bye week, when the Bucs trailed the Falcons 17-0 and needed stops on virtually every possession in the second half, White sacked quarterback Matt Ryan three times.Saints running back Alvin Kamara is among the NFL’s top rushing and receiving threats. But against the Bucs, he had only 16 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries in the season opener against the Bucs and nine carries for 40 yards and a score when they met in Tampa on Nov. 8.Just as important, White is the emotional leader of the Bucs’ defense.The Saints have won five in a row against the Bucs, who have a chance to throw quarterback Drew Brees a retirement party.“If it is his last game, I do need to get a pick and a sack off him,” White said. “That’s something I’ve got to come through. I’ve got to make a big play against Drew Brees. I feel like I play good. I feel like I have better games against the Saints, but I need to make a statement game against the Saints this coming Sunday.”Giddy-up.