Buccaneers’ Line Play Keys Team’s Potential for 2023 Season

Ken Cross

August 02, 2023 at 12:09 pm.

When you look at the strong points for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 2023, center Ryan Jensen and defensive tackle Vita Vea will be the catalysts for how Tampa Bay can do on both sides of the ball.

Jensen is back and avoided surgery after six injuries struck his knee last season when he came back to play one last time with legendary quarterback Tom Brady.

Jensen suited up in the Buccaneers’ 31-14 loss to the Cowboys in the NFL wild-card game and says he probably should not even have tried to play. He had five different opinions and stuck with Dr. K. Donald Shelbourne, who is an orthopedic surgeon who focuses only on knees.

Shelbourne eschewed the idea of surgery for Jensen as he went through the six different injuries in his knee.

“It was treated with a mixture of regenerative medicine and traditional care,” explained Jensen. “He thought it would be better to not have the operation done. We went that route and are feeling good. The ligaments are healthy and healed. We are ready to start rolling again.”

The Pro Bowler said he was “re-energized” by being able to play in the playoff game where he was Brady’s teammate one last time.

Jensen’s motivation to go play in the playoff game outweighed his idea that he shouldn’t have hit the field after being sidelined for the entire 2022 campaign.

“It was an honor to be on the field in Tom’s last game,” explained Jensen. “It was an honor to play with him and suit up one last time with him.”

Jensen started for the Baltimore Ravens in 2017 and in March of the following year, he signed a four-year contract and joined the Buccaneers.

The Colorado State-Pueblo graduate has joined hands in the transition of the Buccaneers’ offense into a “more creative” attack with more of an energetic feel.

“What we are going to be able to do with a little bit of a more mobile quarterback will be awesome as well,” noted Jensen.

Meanwhile, Vea is a literal immovable nose tackle as he stands at 6-4, 347, and posted a team-high 6.5 quarterback sacks last season.

Vea is a defensive stronghold with the same stellar reputation that Jensen enjoys on offense and he will be a team leader on defense.

“I tried to learn from my vets in the past,” Vea said. “I tried to learn from what they taught me and shed light on these younger guys and lead them in the right direction.”

As the 6.5 QB drops in a season was a career-high for Vea, he posted two against the Rams as the Buccaneers won the rematch of the 30-27 loss that was a stepping stone in Los Angeles’ road to the Super Bowl in the 2022 NFL Playoffs.

Vea, though, is interested in continuing to develop his pass rush. He talked about how the Buccaneers need more pressure on opposing quarterbacks to make the sack numbers improve from season to season.

“That is the main that coach (Kacy) Rodgers has been emphasizing for us every day in practice and off the field meetings,” explained Vea. “Trying to help us rush the passer better and contribute to the team to do our best to win and succeed at that phase of the game.”

Getting a solid rookie into shape is on Vea’s mind as well. The Buccaneers added Pitt Panthers defensive end Calijah Kancey as a starter as he and Pitt’s leading tackler, and now Buccaneers linebacker, Sir Vocea Dennis led the Panthers with seven sacks last season.

“He is showing a lot of upside for his future,” Vea said of Kancey. “He is surprising all of us every day with his knowledge of the game, his work ethic and how he is playing the game.”

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