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Tampa Bay Buccaneers X-Factor: DT, Vita Vea

Pressure up the middle will be one key to defeating the Seattle Seahawks

NFL: SEP 29 Buccaneers at Rams

With his upcoming start against the Seattle Seahawks this weekend, Vita Vea will match his rookie total for games started with eight. In all other statistical categories, Vea will not only look to match them as the season progresses, he’ll look eclipse them entirely.

Against the Seattle Seahawks, Vea’s ability to penetrate the offensive line and disrupt the opposing offense may never be more crucial.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are facing an MVP candidate for the first time this season, and it comes in the form of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

Wilson, who currently sits Top-10 in NFL passing yards while leading the league in touchdown passes and quarterback rating, is about as talented an escape artist as the league has seen.

What he lacks in size, Wilson more than makes up for with physical ability and football IQ. His ability to take pressure without allowing it to derail his efforts is well known as well.

However, for most of the year, he’s been doing it behind center and team captain, Justin Britt. This weekend, he’ll be doing it behind back-up Joey Hunt however, after Britt suffered a season ending injury against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 8.

Hunt did well against the Falcons, all things considered, and his team came out of Atlanta with the win. But this week he’s facing a different sort of challenge. A more aggressive sort of defense who will challenge Hunt with looks and pressure coming from any direction on any play. Oh, and then of course, he’s lined up across from Vea himself.

Vea was a star in the Seattle area for years as the best defender for their beloved Washington Huskies. Drafted to play on the Buccaneers’ defensive line, Vea will be looking forward to returning to Washington state, and we can imagine he’d love to put down a solid game in front of a crowd that once cheered on his defensive exploits.

Of Hunt, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll isn’t concerned, saying,

“Joey’s been with us for a long time...We’ve just seen him play so consistently in practice and the work he’s done. He’s never backed off of reassuring us that he’s ready to go.”

But that’s practice. This is Vita Vea. A fact Carroll is aware of and commented on leading up to the game,

“It wouldn’t matter who is playing center with Vita Vea over there on the other side. He’s a remarkable player. We’ll give him a lot of respect.”

Wilson knows how to escape the pocket, but what will he do if the pocket lands in his lap? That’s something Vea and the Buccaneers’ defensive front hopes to discover on Sunday in Seattle.

With linebackers like Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul screaming off the edge to contain the quarterback, a collapsing front would spell really bad news for Wilson and the Seahawks offense.

Which is why Vea is this weekend’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers X-Factor.