The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will next hit the field on Tuesday morning. It will be their first practice of the regular season, in preparation for a September 8 home matchup with the San Francisco 49ers.
Lavonte David will take part in that practice.
David suffered a slight meniscus tear in his left knee about a week into training camp. On August 5, after the veteran linebacker had missed three practices, Head Coach Bruce Arians revealed that David had undergone a surgical procedure on the knee and would be sidelined for some time. At that point, Arians expressed confidence that David would be back for the start of the regular season, and he never wavered from that opinion in the weeks that followed.
Apparently, Arians was right not to worry, and now Buccaneers fans can breathe a little easier, too.
"Lavonte's fine," said Arians on Friday. "He'll be back Tuesday."
David did not play in any of the four preseason games but he had an entire offseason to absorb Todd Bowles' defensive scheme and should have no problem stepping back into action. The Bucs believe David and first-round rookie Devin White can form one of the most dynamic inside linebacker tandems in the NFL.
The Bucs would be even more stout up the middle if second-year defensive lineman Vita Vea can also get back on the field in Week One. Vea suffered a knee injury on August 6 but did not require surgery. The injury initially looked like it might be serious, but a pair of MRI examinations that week returned more optimistic findings. The Buccaneers have since held out hope that Vea might be able to get back on the field for the regular-season opener, and that is apparently still a possibility.
"Yeah, he's progressing very nicely," said Arians. "I'll know more by Tuesday and he'll be here all weekend working out. It'll be close, but I think he'll be there."
When Vea is healthy, he is expected to start at nose tackle on the three-man line, between Ndamukong Suh and Will Gholston. The 12th-overall pick in the 2018 draft, Vea also missed time early in his rookie season due to a leg injury suffered in training camp. That got his debut campaign off to a slow start but he came on very strong down the finish and the Bucs would like him to be able to carry that momentum into the start of 2019.
The countdown to season kickoff is on! The Bucs are kicking off the NFL's 100th season with a FREE Tim McGraw pregame concert for all fans with a ticket to the home opener on Sept. 8! Get your tickets today.