The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are keeping a close watch on Vita Vea heading into their NFC wild-card clash against the Dallas Cowboys.

Vea has continued to nurse the nagging calf injury that he suffered during the early stages of the Buccaneers’ Week 14 road loss to the San Francisco 49ers. He ended up featuring in a mere four snaps on defense in the contest, and he was subsequently ruled out for the next two games.

While Vea made his return to action in Tampa Bay’s home win over the Carolina Panthers earlier this month, the team later opted to take the conservative route by sidelining him from its regular season finale against the Atlanta Falcons.

On Thursday, Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles did provide a promising update on Vea’s calf ailment.

“He came out and did some stuff – he’s coming along,” Bowles said during a press conference on Thursday. “We’ll progress it during the week.”

Vea managed to be a limited participant in Tampa Bay’s first practice session of the week.

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If Vea does not receive the green light to play against Dallas, then Tampa Bay could elect to call on Rakeem Nunez-Roches to fill in for the one-time Pro Bowler in the contest.

Overall, Vea finished regular season play with career highs across the board, including in sacks (6.5).

In the big picture, Bowles has been pleased with the resiliency from his defense, especially as the group has dealt with multiple injuries this year.

“We’ve played with a lot of guys,” Bowles said. “It helped us to play with them last year, so these guys got valuable experience. We don’t expect anything or are let down if somebody gets hurt – they may be a different type of player but these guys have done a great job. Between [Dee] Delaney coming in for some plays, [Pat] O’Connor has played a lot — we had a lot of guys to come in and play that got some valuable experience.

“If something happens, it’s not a hesitancy to put those guys in there — you can go in and play with almost two guys deep and not worry about it, as opposed to playing with about 14 or 15 guys with usual substitutions.”

Tampa Bay is looking to play in the NFC divisional round for the third straight year.