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Bucs linebacker Devin White projects getting 15 tackles Sunday against Browns

Cleveland enters the game with the NFL’s fifth-ranked rushing attack.
Published Nov. 23|Updated Nov. 26

TAMPA — As brazen sports predictions go, Devin White didn’t so much forecast a victory as he did volume on Wednesday.

The Bucs’ defensive vocal leader sees Sunday’s game against the Browns as an opportunity for tackles in bulk supply.

“Getting off the bus, this is a game for 15 tackles,” White, who leads the team with 76 stops, told reporters following Wednesday’s practice.

“Come downhill and be ready to make plays. And I was just telling (safety) Antoine (Winfield Jr.), I look at these games and I get excited, because it’s a chance to make a name for yourself against other great players that established great names for themselves.”

White has only three games of 10 or more tackles this season and hasn’t totaled 15 or more in a contest since recording 18 in a 29-19 road loss to Washington last November. But fueling his confidence this time around is Cleveland’s offensive style.

The Browns, fifth in the NFL with 150.9 rushing yards a game, rank sixth in rushing attempts (316). Their workhorse, veteran Nick Chubb, averages 5.3 yards a carry and is 77 yards shy of his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season.

“It’s going to be tough,” Bucs coach Todd Bowles said. “They’ve got two good runners (Chubb and fellow veteran Kareem Hunt), they’ve got a great offensive line, their tight ends and receivers block as well. They’ve been in the top five (in rushing) the last couple of years, and it’s going to be a challenge for our guys (in terms of) gap control, understanding where we’ve got to be.”

After weeks of dicey gap control and communication, the Bucs put together their best run-stoppage effort of the season in Germany, holding the Seahawks to 39 rushing yards in a 21-16 triumph on Nov. 13.

Considering Cleveland’s backfield depth (which includes former USF standout D’Ernest Johnson) and the projected weather (low 40s, high rain chances), the Browns could pose a stiffer challenge.

“We’ve just got to be dialed in,” White said.

“One of the things we’ve been doing a lot is just going over our run fits and being gap-sound; everybody having integrity on the defense of where they’re supposed to be. I think that’s what we were missing a lot, people being in a lot of missed fits. But now we’re getting everything under control, because we felt that way going against Seattle, and I think we did a great job.”

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls

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