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It's injury deja vu for Bucs' Vita Vea

Tampa Bay Times logo Tampa Bay Times 8/9/2019 By Rick Stroud, Tampa Bay Times
a person wearing a red hat: Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea  runs drills at the AdventHealth Training Center on the first day of training camp on July 26, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. MONICA HERNDON   |   Times © (50)/TNS/Tampa Bay Times/TNS Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea runs drills at the AdventHealth Training Center on the first day of training camp on July 26, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. MONICA HERNDON | Times

TAMPA — Bucs defensive tackle Vita Vea won’t need knee surgery, but for the second year in a row, he could miss three to four weeks of the regular season.

Vea had another MRI Friday that revealed he has an injury to his left lateral cruciate ligament. While he’s not expected to play in the preseason, the Bucs still haven’t ruled him out for the regular-season opener against the 49ers Sept. 8.

A more likely scenario, however, is that he returns sometime within the first month, much like he did a year ago when he sustained a calf injury on the first day in pads during training camp.

Vea was injured during a one-on-one blocking drill with guard Alex Cappa on Tuesday. He grabbed his left knee but managed to walk off the field under his own power.

While the Bucs breathed a sigh of relief that injury wasn’t season-ending, it delays their plan to pair him at defensive tackle with veteran Ndamukong Suh.

The Bucs already are without outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul, who hasn’t returned from an offseason neck injury sustained in a car accident. Inside linebacker Lavonte David had arthroscopic surgery on Sunday to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee and will not play at least during the preseason. Safety Justin Evans is on the physically unable to perform list with foot and toe injuries.

Ian Rapaport said Vea is expected to return within the first four weeks of the regular season.

But missing all of the preseason and possibly several more weeks won’t be good for the Bucs or Vea. He started slowly after returning from his calf injury and conditioning will be a problem without the benefit of game reps.

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