Vita Vea is expected to miss the rest of the NFL season after Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians confirmed the defensive tackle had suffered a broken leg against the Chicago Bears.
A disappointing Thursday Night Football loss to the Bears, who triumphed 20-19, was compounded a day later by the bad news on Vea.
The third-year pro, who was drafted at number 12 overall in 2018, was carted off the field late in the game after taking down Bears running back David Montgomery, his ankle getting caught in the turf at Soldier Field after inadvertent contact with team-mate Devin White.
Vea was shining in the early weeks of the year – he had two sacks and was excelling against the run for a Bucs defense that is fourth in yards allowed and eighth in points per game to support an offense led by Tom Brady.
Join us in wishing Vita a speedy recovery pic.twitter.com/tKKhao1UQQ
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) October 9, 2020
“It’s a big, big loss,” Arians said of the loss of Vea, who started every game last season and all five so far this year.
“When you lose players like [tight end] O.J. [Howard] and Vita, you can plug the next man in, but they are not the same. I hate it for him because he was having such a great year.
“I don’t know if there was a better nose tackle out there. He was getting sacks. He was getting pressure up the middle.
“He got hurt on a great hustle play on the side going back and forth and it was really friendly fire that got his leg. He was playing really, really well.”
The 3-2 Bucs are back in action with a huge home test against the Green Bay Packers in Week 6.
There was also a negative development for the Dallas Cowboys, with coach Mike McCarthy confirming the team’s seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith would undergo neck surgery, ending his season.
Elsewhere, the Miami Dolphins put left tackle Austin Jackson on injured reserve due to a foot injury he suffered against the Seattle Seahawks.