Could Vita Vea make a difference down the stretch?
The Buccaneers finally got a win over the Saints when it mattered the most. Tampa Bay gets to keep their spot in the playoffs for one more week, and the defense played one of its best games of the season.
Four takeaways against the very safe Drew Brees is something to celebrate, especially considering what happened during the previous matchups this season. The Buccaneer defense has looked lost at times this year, and a part of that is due to Vita Vea‘s absence.
Vea suffered an ankle injury early on in the season, and the Bucs have been trying to fill the large hole that he left ever since. Steve McLendon and Rakeem Nunez-Roches have performed admirably, but they are still a far cry from the All-Pro level that Vea was expected to be at.
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Fortunately for the Buccaneers, the two wins so far in the playoffs have only given Vea more time to heal, and there is a small chance that he could return before the season ends.
According to Rick Stroud on Twitter, the Buccaneers have designated Vea for return from IR. While nothing is guaranteed for this upcoming game with the Packers, it is still a welcomed sight to see Vea improving as quickly as he has. While still a newer addition to the team, Vea deserves the playoff recognition with the rest of his team.
If Vea is healthy by the weekend, which is still a long shot, the Buccaneers could get back one of their best defensive players to help slow down Aaron Rodgers. The Bucs did well in the first game, but they’ll need all hands on deck if they want to keep Rodgers from maintaining the MVP pace he performed at this season.
In all likelihood, Vea could get some snaps, but it probably won’t exceed 30-40% of total defensive reps. Vea has been out for a while, and the Bucs can’t afford the trial by fire approach to a return against one of the best offenses in the NFL.
The rest of this week will be very telling as to what the Bucs have come the weekend, but this is definitely welcomed news about one of the biggest contributors on the defense.
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