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When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reconvene for the start of training camp on July 28, they could be doing so without a key piece to their dominant run defense of a year ago. Defensive tackle Vita Vea sustained an unspecified hand injury and underwent a minor surgical procedure a few weeks ago, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. The 2018 first-round pick is expected to miss the start of training camp, but this injury should not impact him so much that his absence bleeds into the regular season. 

The 25-year-old posted a career year during his sophomore season in 2019, totaling a career-high 35 tackles to go along with 2.5 sacks and 12 quarterback hits over 16 games. He also played in 66% of the defensive snaps. Vea was a critical piece to Tampa Bay’s dominant run defense, which allowed the fewest rushing yards in the league at just a 73.8 rushing yards per game clip.  

Along with Vea, the Buccaneers have Ndamukong Suh. Rakeem Nunez-Roches, sixth-round pick Khalil Davis and undrafted rookie Benning Potoa’e at defensive tackle currently on the active roster. Suh, who re-signed with Tampa Bay on a one-year deal earlier this offseason, started all 16 games for the Buccaneers last season and totaled 41 tackles and 2.5 sacks. 

This news surrounding Vea comes off the heels of fellow defensive cog Jason Pierre-Paul also undergoing a minor procedure. The defensive end underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Friday and will need three to four weeks to recover.