TAMPA, Fla. — The Bucs were still buzzing about the play Vita Vea made in practice two days later. In time, it may become part mythology.
“I remember the exact play,” linebacker Devin White said. “How could I not?”
“We were just talking about that,” defensive tackle Khalil Davis said. “The younger guys, when we watched ... it got all of us fired up.”
The 6-foot-4, 346-pound Vea has always been an enormous talent. But with plays like the one he made Monday, he soon will turn poundage into profit.
Here’s how it went down during an 11-on-11 portion of practice. Running back Ronald Jones, who had a 98-yard touchdown run at Carolina last season, took a pass in the flat from Tom Brady and turned upfield.
There was a lot of open grass in front of Jones, and it looked like an easy catch and run for a first down, most likely more. Much more.
But seemingly out of nowhere, Vea turned and sprinted down the line of scrimmage, chasing down Jones from behind for little or no gain.
The sideline erupted. The players on the field hooted and hollered and slapped Vea on the helmet.
Jones looked as if he had been flattened by some phantom tackler.
“When we saw that, it was like, ‘My goodness. A man that big to be able to run down a running back,’” Davis said. “Whew. It was awesome to see, but it just reminds you how different of a player he is.”