TAMPA — Bucs defensive tackle Vita Vea was having a breakout season until suffering a broken leg in a loss at Chicago in Week 5.
Remarkably, he will be activated from the injured list and available to play in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game in Green Bay.
The 6-foot-4, 347-pound Vea is a key cog in the middle of the Bucs’ defense and a big reason it has ranked No. 1 against the run the past two seasons. He also was beginning to evolve into a formidable pass rusher.
Prior to his injury, Vea had 10 tackles and two sacks. But it looked as if Vea might miss the remainder of the 2020 season after he suffered a broken leg when he collided with inside linebacker Devin White while making a tackle in the Bucs’ 20-19 loss at Chicago Oct. 8.
Vea was designated to return from injured reserve on Monday and began practicing Wednesday.
“He’s looked real good,” coach Bruce Arians said earlier Friday. “He’s been running around for almost three weeks and had a real good practice yesterday and a good one today.”
That chance will turn into reality against the Packers, who rely heavily on their running game.
Incidentally, Vea did not play in the Bucs’ 38-10 win over the Packers in Week 6.
“Just to see him out there running around has been great for me personally (with) the relationship that we have,” defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said Thursday. “Hopefully we can keep winning and he can get back. That would be great if he can.”