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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Todd Bowles: Slimmed Down Vita Vea Faster than Last Year

After prioritizing his fitness this offseason through a workout program with former Bucs teammate Ndamukong Suh, sixth-year nose tackle Vita Vea looked quicker and faster to his head coach on Tuesday

In April, after having caught up with of one of his star pupils during the offseason, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defensive Line Coach Kacy Rodgers reported that nose tackle Vita Vea "looks a lot different." On Tuesday, as the Buccaneers began their three-day mandatory minicamp, Rodgers and the rest of the team got their first glimpse of what a "different" Vea looks like in action.

"He's quick," said Head Coach Todd Bowles. "He looks good. He's in shape, he's flying around. He's a little faster than he was last year – hopefully that continues. We look forward to him having a great training camp."

Rather than attend the Buccaneers' voluntary practices and workouts in April and May, Vea chose to join former teammate Ndamukong Suh in his own offseason program. Suh, who played 13 seasons in the NFL, collected 71.5 sacks and never missed a game due to injury, had been inviting Vea to work out with him since the two were teammates from 2019-21, but this is the first time Vea accepted the invitation.

"Yeah, I was out there in sunny Portland, just grinding away," said Vea. "[There was] a lot of early morning stuff, but we got it together. He took me under his wing and just took care of me out there."

Vea, who has been listed as 347 pounds on the Buccaneers' roster since his rookie season, apparently lost weight under Suh's direction, though he was understandably unwilling to share how much or what his current weight is. Vea also didn't elaborate about the specifics of Suh's program or how long he spent in Portland, but he did say he learned a lot from the former Buccaneer, on subjects both on and off the field.

Vea made the Pro Bowl in 2021 and has 23.5 sacks, including 12.0 over the last two seasons. He was the 12th player drafted overall in 2018 largely because he is surprisingly quick and nimble for his size. He is also a powerful rusher and run-stopper who is difficult to move and often demands double teams when he's at his best. His decision to train with Suh was apparently aimed at making sure he's at the top of his game.

"I think some of it is weight, some of it is just getting nicked up at the wrong time," said Bowles. "It's a combination of a lot of things. But, he looks great right now and I'm happy where he's at."

While he prioritized getting into ideal shape over voluntary practices this spring, Vea was happy to be back on the field for minicamp. After this week's activity, he will have another extended break before the start of training camp but will be in a good position to make the most of that opportunity when the team reconvenes in July.

"It feels good to be back," said Vea. "It's always a good time coming back out there and being with the guys and getting ready for the season."

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