It's a day of both good and bad news for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as the equally high-powered Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field Sunday. due to a knee injury suffered in the divisional round against the New Orleans Saints, which steals away one of Tom Brady's top offensive weapons. The defense, however, is the beneficiary of positive injury news, with the team announcing Friday that defensive lineman Vita Vea has been activated for Sunday's clash with Green Bay.
This will make Vea available for the first time since Week 5, when the Bucs lost to the Chicago Bears and -- in the process -- lost Vea for the remainder of the regular season due to a broken ankle suffered in that matchup. As such, he'd miss the battle with the Packers that following week, a game the Bucs won handily, but count him in for the rematch.
The addition of Vea to the lineup presumably makes the No. 1 run defense in the league that much better, along with his impact on the pass rush as well. The former 12th overall pick flew out of the gate to start the season, delivering two sacks through a little more than four weeks from the interior of the defensive line, adding to his resume with with the Bucs -- one that now totals 73 combined tackles, 19 quarterback hits and 7.5 sacks in 29 starts (34 games total).
For perspective, Vea's career high in sacks occurred in his 2018 rookie season to the tune of three and, had he remained healthy this season, it seems a foregone conclusion he would've blown past that mark. Now healthy, if he can return in the same form in which he left, an already dominant Bucs defensive front will have some needed firepower in their attempt to take down Aaron Rodgers -- both literally and figuratively speaking.