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Buccaneers activate NT Vita Vea off injured reserve for NFC title game

The Buccaneers could get one of their top defenders back for the NFC Championship game.

The Buccaneers Vita Vea (50) watches the action during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Training Camp on August 17, 2020 at the AdventHealth Training Center in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Friday update: The Bucs have formally activated Vita Vea off injured reserve. He will be eligible to play this Sunday.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could get back a big part of their defensive line on Sunday, as nose tackle Vita Vea has been designated for return from the injured reserve and was seen at practice on Wednesday, per Tampa Bay Times Rick Stroud.

The team had what is really a glorified walk-through on Wednesday, so Thursday and Friday practices should be more telling. Initial observations have Vea as looking good and at game weight, but he has been sidelined since Week 5 with a broken ankle.

Returning to play after an ankle injury for someone of Vea’s size, could be fraught with problems and he may not end up playing this week against the Packers. If he does play, he would likely be in on certain downs. His absence has been felt, as the Buccaneers defense hasn’t been as dominant as it was early in the season, so his return, even in a limited way, could be big.