Fri, 29 May 2020

NFL notebook: Bucs Vea will not play vs. Steelers

Sports Xchange
23 Sep 2018, 09:16 GMT+10

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will not get a chance Monday night to see their first-round pick, massive defensive tackle Vita Vea, in game action.

Vea returned to practice for the first time in seven weeks Thursday, giving him a chance to make his NFL debut in Monday night's matchup against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers. But the team announced Saturday that Vea will remain sidelined for another week.

The Bucs will be thin in the middle of the defensive line because Vea and fellow defensive tackle Beau Allen are out. Also out for the Bucs is cornerback Marcus Williams, while safety Chris Conte and cornerback Brent Grimes are questionable.

Despite Vea's inability to practice while dealing with a calf injury, he lost 15 pounds and is closer to the playing weight the Buccaneers envisioned.

Still, the lengthy hiatus has Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter concerned about the conditioning level of Vea, who practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday.

"When you've been out for seven weeks -- conditioning indoors is different than playing football outdoors, when you've got bodies around your legs and everything," Koetter told reporters Saturday morning. "There's no lack of 'want to' or anything like that -- we've gotta be reasonable with how much time we give him ... we'll see."

The 6-foot-4, 347-pound Vea was taken with the No. 12 overall pick by the Buccaneers in the 2018 NFL Draft. The plan was to pair him with six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy on a revamped defensive line that added Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry this offseason.

However, Vea injured his calf early in training camp and had to be carted off the field July 29. At the time, Koetter expressed optimism over the severity of the injury, calling it "better than we thought."

--Lynn Redden, the superintendent of Onalaska Independent School District in Texas, resigned Saturday morning following his racist comment about Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.

"We have accepted the resignation of the superintendent," the school board said in a statement.

The resignation came six days after Redden was critical on Facebook of Watson's play in the Texans' loss to the Titans.

"That may have been the most inept quarterback decision I've seen in the NFL," he wrote. "When you need precision decision making you can't count on a black quarterback."

Those comments were denounced by Texans coach Bill O'Brien and team captain J.J. Watt, among others.

"I don't want to waste any time responding to ignorant, idiotic statements," O'Brien said. "Deshaun represents everything that's right about football and life. It's amazing that BS exists, but it does."

Watt added, "I don't think it deserves any attention from any of us. I think it's a very ignorant comment. ... Very unfortunate. I trust (Watson). I trust him a whole lot."

--Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy will travel with the team, but he remains questionable for Sunday's game at the Minnesota Vikings.

McCoy suffered a rib injury in last week's 31-20 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers and was limited in practice all week.

The Bills have scored an AFC-low 23 points in a pair of lopsided losses, including a 47-3 mauling by the Baltimore Ravens in the season opener.

McCoy rushed for only 39 yards on nine carries against the Chargers and was limited to 22 yards on seven rushing attempts in Week 1. He has five catches for 28 yards in two games.

The absence of McCoy will put more of an onus on rookie quarterback Josh Allen. The No. 7 overall pick out of Wyoming, Allen was 18 of 33 for 245 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in his first career start last week.

Buffalo's offense ranks 31st in total yards per game (223.0) and passing yards per game (139.5).

If McCoy, who eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing for the sixth time in his career in 2017, is unable to go, Chris Ivory is expected to get the start in his place.

--When the NFL doled out its weekly fines Friday, one of the more notable ones was levied against Atlanta Falcons safety Damontae Kazee for a vicious hit on Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

Panthers wide receiver Torrey Smith questioned the severity of the punishment on Kazee and was further angered when he was fined an equal amount by the league for retaliating.

Both players were fine $10,026 by the NFL, even though Kazee was ejected from Atlanta's 31-24 win over Carolina on Sunday and has since apologized to Newton. Kazee was subject to a suspension for the hit, which would have meant his fine would have been one game check, $32,647.

"I hate to see any player lose money but if that hit was on any other QB but Cam that fine would've been a trillion dollars," Smith wrote on his personal Twitter account.

The play in question occurred on a scramble to the left side by Newton. The quarterback slid feet first to the ground at the end of his run as Kazee flew in and delivered a helmet-to-helmet hit that left Newton dazed and writhing in pain on the ground.

Smith charged in from the left side and shoved Kazee to the ground, drawing an identical fine of $10,026 for unnecessary roughness and retaliation.

--San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster is understandably eager to return to the lineup.

After missing the first two games of the season while serving a suspension for violating the league's policies on personal conduct and substance abuse, Foster will make his season debut Sunday at the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs.

The 49ers could use Foster against the high-powered Chiefs, who have been an offensive machine behind quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but the second-year linebacker is just giddy to be back on the field.

"It's like a holiday, just knowing I can come back and play the game I love," said Foster, per NBC Sports Bay Area. "So I'm just happy to be playing the cards right and doing good off the field and on the field, and doing nothing off the field so I won't be off the field again."

Foster ranked second on the 49ers in tackles with 72 despite missing five games because of a high ankle sprain and another game with back spasms in 2017. He was named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Month in November.

--The Pittsburgh Steelers will enter Monday night's matchup at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with serious injury concerns on their offensive line.

Right guard David DeCastro was ruled out of the game against the undefeated Buccaneers because of a broken hand sustained in a season-opening tie against Cleveland.

The injury forced DeCastro to sit out last weekend's home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, ending the former Pro Bowl selection's streak of 72 consecutive starts.

Pittsburgh could be without both starters on the right side of the line. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert is battling a hamstring injury that kept him out of practice Thursday and Friday.

Gilbert was a limited participant in Saturday's practice and told reporters that he considers himself a game-time decision for the prime-time matchup against the 2-0 Buccaneers.

--Le'Veon Bell has yet to report to the team, Antonio Brown is engulfed in controversy and the Pittsburgh Steelers are still in search of the first win.

Despite the absence of their All-Pro running back, the offense has not been an issue for Pittsburgh, which is 0-1-1 entering Monday night's matchup at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brown has nine receptions in each of the first two games and has been matched by second-year wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster, who also has 18 catches and a touchdown.

One of the more unlikely offensive standouts, however, has been tight end Jesse James, who entered his fourth NFL season projected to serve as a backup to Vance McDonald.

Instead, with McDonald injured through the preseason, James has made the most of his chances, continuing a steady progression since Pittsburgh drafted him in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Penn State.

James is coming off a monster performance in a 42-37 loss to Kansas City, hauling in five catches for 138 yards and a touchdown. Not only was it a career high in yardage, but it marked James' first 100-yard game.

Still, James knows this could be his last year in the Steel City. He is in the final season of his rookie contract and will be a free agent in 2019, but James is trying to keep his focus on the field.

"I would have loved to have a contract done and set in stone. But it is what it is," James told ESPN. "Just give me another year to prove myself, see what happens after the season. I'm focused on winning a Super Bowl."

--Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas was at practice Friday but did not participate. Coach Pete Carroll was vague in answering questions about Thomas and said "we'll see" when asked if Thomas would play Sunday.

"He couldn't work today," Carroll said Friday, via Curtis Crabtree of Sports Radio KJR and PFT.

Thomas also missed Wednesday's practice for what the Seahawks listed as "not injury related."

"He's got some other stuff going on we're working on," Carroll said. "It's personal in nature. That's why I'm not talking about it."

Thomas may or may not play Sunday. Since Thomas' absence wasn't injury related, the Seahawks do not have to list him on the status report.

"We'll see how he's doing, make sure he's OK," Carroll said.

--Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown caused a bit of a storm this week with his actions both on and off the field.

From venting on the sidelines to a curious exchange on social media to failing to report to work on Monday, Brown has been the target of widespread criticism over the past few days.

Add Steelers legend and former teammate Hines Ward to that list.

"I'm a little embarrassed," Ward said in an interview with CBS Sports Radio. "In the sense that that's not the Steelers culture. We're not really big on kind of having off-the-field issues with a lot of different guys."

Brown was disciplined by Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin for failing to be at the team's facility Monday, one day after he appeared to be directing his ire toward offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner during Pittsburgh's 42-37 setback to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The six-time Pro Bowl selection then offered a curious "trade me" response to a critical tweet from former Steelers public relation staffer Ryan Scarpino on social media the following day while he was a surprising no-show at team headquarters.

Brown met with the media Thursday and attempted to calm the waters, claiming that he is merely frustrated by the team's 0-1-1 start to the season and reiterating he has no desire to be traded.

Ward, who spent his entire career with the Steelers and retired after the 2011 season with 1,000 career receptions, said he can understand Brown's emotions -- to a point.

"Listen, I understand he's a passionate guy and wants to win more than anybody in the world, but in this case I kind of think he's wrong for the outburst," Ward said. "When things aren't going good, a lot of people look at the leaders on your team ... they want to see how you respond to adversity. It's something that I wouldn't have done. I get it, you're frustrated. You want to win. But having outbursts like that doesn't do anybody any justice."

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