Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea is one of the most imposing players in the NFL, and not even having a tooth knocked out can slow him down.
Vea had one of his front teeth knocked out in the middle of a play during the first half of Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts. The 347-pound tackle took a helmet to the mouth after his own helmet and chin strap were pushed up. Vea didn’t seem bothered and had a big bloody smile on as he showed his teammates what happened.
Vita Vea is among the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL. But did you know that he was a stud as a running back in high school too?
During the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, CBS showed video of Vea’s high school running back highlights.
They are impressive to say the least. Take a look and enjoy:
Vea was not only the biggest guy on the field, but he sure looked like the fastest too. He was outrunning dudes and even chased one down on defense too. How is that possible? Although, I guess that’s the case with this guy in the NFL today.
Vea played at Milpitas High School in Northern California and served as a running back and defensive lineman. As a senior, he rushed 47 times for 578 yards and 11 touchdowns. He had 19 sacks according to his MaxPreps page. It makes you wonder why they didn’t feed him the ball more based on how unstoppable he was!
Vea played defensive line at Washington in college and with the Bucs. The 2018 No. 12 overall pick is listed at 6-foot-4 and 347 pounds. He must have put on a ton of weight upon arriving at Washington.
Some people have the misconception that football players — especially the linemen — are just big, fat dudes. This video should help dispel that notion. These guys are elite athletes who aren’t just bigger and stronger than nearly anyone else; many of them are also faster and more agile too.
NFL players often swap jerseys with opponents after games as a show of respect, but Vita Vea reminded us on Thursday night that the process isn’t an easy one for a 350-pound defensive tackle.
Vea swapped jerseys with Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman Jordan Mailata following the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 28-22 win. The process seemed quite challenging. While Leonard Fournette was being interviewed by FOX, Vea was shown in the background struggling to get his jersey off. He eventually needed some help. Check out the hilarious video:
The NFL banned players from swapping jerseys last season, so this is the stuff we were missing out on. Vea had better have an equipment manager on standby the next time he wants to trade jerseys with someone.
Vita Vea will miss some time after undergoing hand surgery recently.
The Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud reported on Saturday that Vea underwent a minor procedure on his hand a few weeks ago for an unspecified injury. Stroud says Vea is expected to miss some time to start training camp but not be limited for the regular season.
Vea, 25, was a first-round pick by the Buccaneers in 2018 and anchors the middle of Tampa Bay’s defensive line. He played 66 percent of the team’s defensive snaps last season and saw time on special teams.
Vea had 35 tackles (four for a loss) and 2.5 sacks last season. He also caught a touchdown pass. Vea is entering the third year of his rookie contract, which was for $15.82 million over four years.
Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul, William Gholston and Rakeem Nunez-Roches will join Vea along Tampa Bay’s defensive line.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were fortunate over the summer when first-round pick Vita Vea suffered a leg injury that initially appeared to be serious but turned out to be minor, and it sounds like the same happened with the injury that knocked Vea out of Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
After Vea hurt his knee on Sunday, the Bucs feared he may have torn his ACL. However, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that an MRI revealed good news.
Buccaneers feared Sunday that first-round pick Vita Vea tore his ACL. But an MRI today came back negative and Vea's ACL is intact, per source. Buccaneers feel fortunate that Vea escaped serious injury.
That’s obviously good news, as Vea is expected to play a major role in his rookie season. The former Washington star is a force on the interior defensive line, which has been an area of need for Tampa Bay.
“Vita left practice; not sure what it is. It’s a lower leg injury of some kind,” Koetter said. “We’ll know later. I don’t know right now.”
Vea, the No. 12 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, is expected to start right away for the Bucs. The former Washington star should solidify Tampa’s interior defensive line if and when healthy, so the Bucs will be hoping they get similar news to the news the Pittsburgh Steelers received on Sunday about one of their key players who went down in practice.
Just because a rookie is selected highly in the NFL Draft doesn’t mean he will be an immediate impact player. Don’t be surprised, for instance, if none of the first-round quarterback selections are starting for their teams in Week 1. That’s not a blanket rule, though — many players will be expected to contribute early and often to their new teams.
There’s a big difference between contributing and excelling, though. Here are ten rookies who have a good chance to do the latter in their rookie seasons.
1) Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants
Barkley is walking into a rather envious position. He’s on a team that still has aspirations of contending. They have a veteran quarterback and an offense where he’ll be expected to have a big role. If you believe the scouting reports on him, he’s as NFL-ready as any draft pick, and he’ll get an immediate chance to show it. It’s an open question whether the Giants will be any good, but whatever they do, Barkley will be at the center of it.
2) Bradley Chubb, EDGE, Broncos
Chubb is another rookie who’s walking into a great situation. Widely considered the best defender in the draft, he’s headed to a Denver team that has prided itself on a strong defense during this recent era of success. He’ll get to learn directly from Von Miller and be part of a fearsome pass rush. A lot of rookies of this caliber go to teams that are otherwise bereft of talent, but that’s not so in Denver. Playing alongside top quality talent could help him develop more quickly.
3) Quenton Nelson, OG, Colts
You may not always notice the rookie guard’s contributions, but they’re going to be immense and immediate. Nelson is more or less assured a starting spot on a Colts offensive line that hasn’t been good. He’s about as NFL-ready as they come in any context. Nelson could be a Pro Bowler very early in his NFL career if things go well. He’s that good already and has that much potential to get even better, and will be afforded every opportunity to.
4) Derwin James, S, Chargers
As long as James is healthy, this could turn out to be the steal of the draft. He’s headed to a team whose defensive coordinator, Gus Bradley, has a history of getting the best out of players like this. James is also a top ten talent who fell further than many expected in the first round. The Florida State product is a skilled and versatile defender who has a very good chance of making a big impact in the NFL from day one.
5) Roquan Smith, LB, Bears
The draft’s best pure linebacker, Smith will be handed a big role immediately in a moribund Chicago defense that is just looking for a spark. Expect him to provide it. The speedy linebacker had 137 total tackles in 2017 and will look to wreck opposing offensive gameplans very quickly as he starts his career. His immense physical tools alone should make him an impact player from day one, and he’s another guy that could contend for some awards early in his career.
6) Denzel Ward, CB, Browns
The Browns received a fair amount of criticism for taking Ward No. 4, which seemed like a reach to some critics. Perhaps it was, but the bottom line is the Browns badly needed help in the secondary and Ward will have the opportunity to prove his worth right away. That’s something that not even the first overall pick Baker Mayfield can bank on. Ward is also a talented young cornerback who can have a long NFL career as a starter, and he’ll be trusted to do the job early on.
7) Vita Vea, DL, Buccaneers
Vea is in a pretty nice situation himself. He’s still a work in progress, but the Washington Huskies product will likely be paired with Gerald McCoy up front. He’ll be told to use his physical gifts to stuff the run, and he’ll probably be good at it. He has room for improvement, but Vea should be an impact player on the defensive line from day one. Being paired with an accomplished veteran who can help cover some of his flaws and spotlight what he’s good at should make him look even better.
8) Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Dolphins
The rookie from Alabama is so versatile that it’s a question of where the Dolphins will utilize him, not when. Fitzpatrick can play pretty much anywhere within the secondary. He can cover in the slot, roam as a safety, and he can even get after the quarterback as a blitzer. He may not defend the top target on any other team, but Fitzpatrick is certainly good enough to walk into the NFL and cover slot receivers at worst.
9) Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Bills
Edmunds is another player whose combination of speed and versatility will ensure that he has a spot on the field somewhere. He finished last season with 109 tackles and 5.5 sacks, and it’s fair to say that the Bills will be looking for the linebacker to mature into something similar at the NFL level as well. He can play on the edge or on the inside, and the Bills will look to find a spot for him early so he can wreak havoc on opposing defenses.
10) Michael Gallup, WR, Cowboys
Unlike the rest of the players on this list, Gallup was not a first-round pick, and he’s flying under the radar. However, the wide receiver is going to have opportunities that even he may not have envisioned when the Cowboys selected him in the third round. Dez Bryant was released, Jason Witten has retired, and Dak Prescott is going to need to find targets somewhere. That could be Gallup, a rookie with very good speed and size who could have a significant early role in the Dallas offense as it moves into a new era post-Bryant and Witten.
Two days later, Vea responded by writing out his full name on a napkin and posting a photo. It appears that Schefter missed a few apostrophes as well as the name “Fehoko.”
Vea is of Tongan ancestry and comes from Milpitas, Calif. He was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year last season for the Washington Huskies. He is a force on the defensive line and could very well be a top ten pick in the draft. Vea is so versatile that he even was able to make a tackle in special teams on punt coverage last season.
Fans of whatever team that lands him will be quite satisfied — and even more thrilled that they won’t have to call him by his full name. Vea is pretty easy to remember.