Buccaneers: Rakeem Nunez-Roches set to replace Vita Vea

Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have lost key defensive piece, Vita Vea, to injury, and Rakeem Nunez-Roches will have to answer the call.

Vita Vea has sneakily been one of the best defensive players for the Buccaneers to start this season, and now, the Bucs will have to play without him for the rest of the season. The Bucs lost Vea to injury in the painful loss to Chicago, and Rakeem Nunez-Roches is the next man up on the depth chart.

Losing Vea hurts, but the Bucs are hopeful that Nunez-Roches could step up in a dire time of need. The Buccaneer defensive line has experienced a high level of play from all three members this season, and the expectations are already high for the replacement.

The good news for the Bucs is that Nunez-Roches had a great training camp and is looking to prove himself with a greater body of work. The third-year Buccaneer lineman bulked up during the offseason and already has the size to perform well at nose tackle in Todd Bowles‘ system.

More from The Pewter Plank

Nunez-Roches will be able to stem the bleeding coming from the loss of Vea adequately, and there are no significant causes of concern for the future of the line yet.

The other positive news for the Bucs is that they often play in a nickel defense anyway, and their best bet is to sit in formations like this early on while Nunez-Roches gets used to the speed of the game again.

Instead of starting a player with only 16 career starts in six years without any time to adjust, the Bucs could keep William Gholston and Ndamukong Suh on the inside and play with Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaquil Barrett at defensive ends. This would only be a slight change for the defensive game plan, and the Bucs could still maintain their high level of play while their newest starter adjusts.

The best hope for the Bucs at this point is that they have found another excellent depth piece for their defense. Rakeem Nunez-Roches has earned this starting role with his level of play over the past several years, and he is ready to prove himself on a team with hopes set in the playoffs.

Related Story. Buccaneers: 5 biggest surprises of the early NFL season. light