No. 1 pick Vea still trying to find his game

by Gary Shelton on November 9, 2018 · 4 comments

in general

Vea hasn't had much production for Bucs./CARMEN MANDATO

Friday, 3 a.m.

Not to say it's been a lost season for Vita Vea, but has anyone seen him lately?

Can a GPS find him? A bloodhound? A team of private detectives?

Vea, the Bucs' No 1 draft pick, has had an empty rookie season. He's played in five games, and he has just one tackle and one assist. If you're counting, Jameis Winston, Peyton Barber, Ryan Jensen, Ali Marpet, DeSean Jackson and Cameron Brate all have more. Of course, the Bucs make a lot of turnovers.

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“I think Vita’s best football is in front of him for sure," Bucs' coach Dirk Koetter said. "He just hasn’t had much production. He’s given good effort.

"He has to get off blocks better and end up getting in on plays. It’s not about effort or anything like that, it’s just he’s having a hard time getting off blocks. He’s getting some penetration, but he’s having a hard time getting of blocks. Everybody progresses at their own rate and we’d like to see him come faster, but that’s what it is right now.”

Vea was hampered by a leg injury and missed most of the preseason. He still hasn't caught up. If you're looking for a comparison, Warren Sapp had 27 tackles and three sacks as a rookie He never had that few again. Gerald McCoy also had 27 tackles and three sacks in his first season.

"You see his athleticism," Koetter said. "You can see him chase and run and stuff like that. You can see all the things that we saw on his college tape, but we’re all judged on production eventually.”

The Bucs, 3-5 at the halfway point of the season, face the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

Tampa Bay could use a run-stopper against Washington. Once again, ageless (against the Bucs) back Adrian Peterson is waiting. A. year ago, playing for Arizona, Peterson carried 26 times for 134 yards.

This year, the Redskins also have Chris Thompson.

“(Thompson) is actually playing well, he’s just been injured a lot," Koetter said." It’s hard to focus on a guy that really hasn’t played the last couple of weeks and didn’t practice again yesterday. Adrian Peterson – it’s right there on tape — you know exactly what you’re getting.

"Most teams have a change of pace back, so it’s not like we haven’t seen that from other teams. (Thompson) is having a good year and we’ll just have to see if he plays. That one stat that jumps out at you is their 5-0 when Peterson rushes for 90 yards or more and they’re 0-3 when he doesn’t. That tells you who you better concentrate on stopping.”

The Bucs will turn to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick again Sunday. Once again, he will have receiver Adam Humphries.

“Adam’s a good football player," said offensive coordinator Todd Monken. "Sometimes he’s open and you don’t get him the ball, and other times it just kind of presents itself. It worked out well for Adam. Since I’ve been here, he’s been a really good football player. It’d be hard to say where he’s improved because I think from the first day I got here, he’d already been here a year. He’s been a good player for us.”

Tight end O.J. Howard is also having a good season.

“Like most players, I mean they’re going to continue to progress like he has," Monken said. "Again, it just presented itself. Sometimes opportunities for skill guys come their way and sometimes they don’t — just worked out this week. He’s doing a much better job I think with his pad level and his releases and he’s going to continue to grow as a blocker.”

The Bucs play the Redskins at 1 p.m. Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.






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