Questions Swirl on Buccaneers Star’s Persistent Injury: ‘Playing off Guts’

Devin White, Buccaneers linebacker, has been dealing with a foot injury

Getty Devin White, Buccaneers linebacker, has been dealing with a foot injury

Coach Todd Bowles was asked a pretty straightforward question this week on Wednesday after practice: Does Buccaneers star Devin White still have an injury? White has been on the field but not quite his usual self, not since suffering a foot injury against the Eagles in Week 3.

That was more than a month ago. Bowles said he does not think the injury is still a particularly big issue for White, but in answering the question, he did add an odd twist at the end.

“I don’t think so,” Bowles said. “I’m sure after the season, he probably may have [been]. But, there’s a lot of guys out there that [are] just playing off of guts.”

It would not be a good thing if White, who usually plays off of speed, was instead relying mostly on guts. You can’t run very fast on guts. But Bowles’ answer does leave the idea that White is hurting intact.

After the team’s bye week last month, White spoke about the Buccaneers trying to deal with injuries, individually and as a team. He has played nearly every defensive snap this season, healthy or no.

“We in the trenches, we play hard,” White said via the Buccaneers website. “We got a lot of guys going down but we’re able to use that time to get back healthy. And we were still playing good ball, you know, we had a lot of guys filling in and actually doing a good job and improving from last year.”

Injury May Be Keeping Buccaneers’ Devin White From Sacks

One change that could, potentially, help the Buccaneers and Devin White, whether he is injured or not, is the return of defensive lineman Vita Vea, who was a full participant at practice. Vea has been dealing with injuries all season, first a pectoral muscle, then his foot, and most recently his groin. That injury kept him out of the Week 8 game against Buffalo last Thursday.

White has had no sacks thus far this season. Vea’s return can help in that regard.

“We talk about it all the time,” Bowles said. “Coach [Larry] Foote talks about it with him all the time: when to shoot the gap, when to come downhill, when to slide through. Devin does a lot for us and is doing a lot for us. Some of the plays he makes with his brain by getting other people ready. You want to see more impactful plays from really all of them over there. He’s playing fine – we’ve just got to get the small plays to become the big plays. He can’t press them.”

Free Agency Looming for White

It is not great timing for Devin White to have an injury-plagued year, or to be less productive than he has been as he’s risen to stardom in Tampa Bay. He is a free agent after this season, and he might wind up being too expensive for the cap-strapped Buccaneers to bring back.

Bleacher Report, in its listing of top 2024 free agents, has White as the No. 9 player on the list. While his sack numbers are down, and the injury is a concern, the site still gave Devin White props:

“This season, Devin White has done a little bit of everything for the Buccaneers, including allowing an opposing passer rating of only 66.7 in coverage.

“White is one of the few true sideline-to-sideline defenders in the league, and there isn’t a role that he cannot fill. When making contract projections, the five-year, $100 million deal that Roquan Smith recently signed with Baltimore is a likely starting point.”

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