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Buccaneers Defensive Tackle Vita Vea Practices, But Will He Play in Cleveland?

Coming out of the bye week less healthy is not what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers needed heading on the road to face the Cleveland Browns in Week 12.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rode a two-game winning streak into their bye week after a late comeback win over the Los Angeles Rams and an overseas victory against the Seattle Seahawks. 

Most thought the Bucs were finding their grove, and outside of running back Leonard Fournette who suffered a hip injury in Germany, they'd come back healthier and primed for a sprint to the end of the regular season. 

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But then came the news that defensive tackle Vita Vea wasn't practicing due to a foot injury, and a lot of the confidence disappeared in an instant. 

Perhaps, with news that Vea was a limited participant at practice on Friday, some of that hope can seep back in now. 

"He's getting better and better," head coach Todd Bowles said of Vea. "Hopefully with a few more days rest we'll look for him on Sunday to work out and see what he can do."

Officially, Vea is questionable for the game against the Browns. And if he can go, Tampa Bay will certainly take whatever they can get from him. 

Not just because the team captain has become the lynchpin to one of the more dominant defensive fronts in recent years, but because the Buccaneers face perhaps the most dominant running back in the same stretch this weekend. 

Browns running back Nick Chubb is fourth in the NFL with 923 rushing yards but leads the league in yards per attempt among those with 150 carries or more. 

“You know when you get off the plane – they’re going to run the ball," said run game coordinator and defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers. "That’s how they’re built with their personnel and everything, and they’ve got a top-flight running back – actually, a top-flight tandem at running back – so, the thing is, it’ll be a good challenge. They didn’t do so well against Buffalo, so they’ll be highly motivated to do well because they kind of understand how they win – when they run the ball it opens everything up for them – so it will be a big test for us.”

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The Bucs expect to face a highly motivated Browns team. 

But the Browns should be seeing an even more motivated Buccaneers squad. One in control of its own destiny in the NFC South. 

And having Vea on the field to help lead the charge would certainly help get Tampa Bay the win they're seeking.

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