Vita Vea, Back from Broken Ankle, Activated for NFC Title Game

The former University of Washington defensive lineman has been activated to play against the Green Bay Packers.

Tampa Bay, unlike other Florida destinations, is not God's waiting room.

People go there to come alive, not die.

Tom Brady.

Bruce Arians.

And now, quite possibly, Vita Vea.

The former University of Washington defensive lineman, who broke his ankle in the Buccaneers' fifth game of the season against the Chicago Bears, came off injured reserve this week and amazingly returned to practice.

Tampa Bay (13-5) has announced it will activate the 6-foot-4, 346-pound Vea for Sunday's NFC championship game in Green Bay (14-3).

Vea all along made sure that to let his coach know that he was making progress and might be available, beginning as far back as three weeks ago.

"I saw him running in the pool and then on the Ultra G," Arians said, his latter reference describing a treadmill. "It's like, 'Man, he's getting close.' Once I finally saw him running outside, I knew. He wanted to play. He wanted to come back and I said, 'Hey, we'll keep winning and you keep working and it will work out.' And it has."

The overly athletic big man — who can forget his touchdown catch for the Bucs last year, a 1-yarder coming out of the backfield from Jameis Winston — was off to an impressive start on the Tampa Bay D-line with three tackles for loss among 10 overall in those five games.

He has plenty of incentive to get back on the field.

Of course, there's Brady.

Vea got in just five games playing with the ageless wonder before he was carted off the field in a 20-19 loss to the Bears.

Then there's the carrot of one more win and the Bucs advance to the Super Bowl.

And they don't have to go far.

Tampa Bay, with or without the Bucks, will host Super Bowl LV.

Vea, the 12th overall pick in the 2018 draft, played three seasons for the Huskies, earning second-team AP All-America honors and winning the Morris Trophy that goes to the Pac-12's top lineman. 

He's in his third season with Tampa Bay and has played 34 games and started 29.

Vea will be back this weekend to face the Packers, who Tampa Bay routed 38-10 the week following Vita's injury.

He's been put on the 53-man roster. 

No doubt Tom Brady and Company need someone to plug up the middle like only he can.

And, of course, it's always nice to have another receiver available.

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