Rookie DE Da’Quan Bowers says he is 100 percent healthy after his practice with the Bucs. Bowers said he is supremely motivated and DL coach Keith Millard said Bowers looks impressive.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got their first look at their second-round pick defensive end Da’ Quan Bowers. After being a candidate to be the first overall selection, the Clemson product Bowers had a draft day free fall over concerns about a knee condition. Tampa Bay selected Bowers with the 51st overall pick and a player they believe will be their long-term starting left defensive end.
After passing a physical on Thursday, Bowers participated in his first professional practice on Friday morning. After practice Bowers talked about how he felt.
“It was great a chance and a great feeling just to be back on the field with cleats on be with the team,” said Bowers. “The last time I played was December, so it has been long over due with the whole lockout situation, but I’m just happy to be out with my new team.
“I feel great. I’m getting used to this Florida heat and humidity, but other than that I feel good. I’m flying around to the ball, taking reps, and getting my work in. I’m just ready to start the season.”
After post-season surgery, Bowers was limited during the time of the pre-draft workouts and NFL Scouting Combine. Bowers worked diligently with the Clemson training staff to get ready for his rookie season. At this point Bowers said he has no physical limitations.
“During the whole lockout I would do things to test myself to see how my progress was coming,” said Bowers. “But I knew coming into camp I’d be ready to go.”
Passing his physical with the Buccaneers was big source of gratification and accomplishment after his turbulent offseason.
“Definitely that was my main focus, I had no chance to fail it. I knew I would pass it,” said Bowers. “I wasn’t worried about it, but now that the team knows that I’m a full go everybody can get on do what we’re trying to do and that’s win a Super Bowl.”
Bowers led Clemson and the nation in sacks (15.5) and tackles for loss (26) last year. In his three-year career with the Tigers, Bowers had 19.5 sacks and 44.5 tackles for loss. The 6-foot-4, 280-pound defensive end said this draft day fall has supplied him with a lot of motivation to prove other NFL teams wrong and he was asked if he has a chip on his shoulder.
“Definitely. It is more like a log not a chip,” said Bowers. “I’m definitely hungry. 10 defensive ends went before me. 31 teams passed up on me, so I got 31 points to make. I’m going to do it by working hard, helping my team and getting ready. I’m looking forward to gelling with my team and coaches and getting the gist of everything around here.”
Defensive line coach Keith Millard said he was impressed, but not surprised with what he saw out of the rookie on the first day.
“He’s a guy that knows how to get off the ball and attack people in the run and pass,” said Millard. “Very aggressive, highly motivated, really really excited to have him and feel very lucky to get him.
“I knew what he was going to look like. I know what he can do. We study these guys in the offseason getting ready for the draft. We know everything about him. We looked at every game they played as a junior and senior, all the way through, he wouldn’t be here if we didn’t know everything about him. We knew about the injury. Everybody is positive about that. Everybody has got high hopes about that we’re not worried about it and he’s not worried about it. We just got to get him back on track.”
Bowers took the first team reps at left defensive end throughout the Friday morning session. Buccaneers head coach and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said that he is ready to help Bowers focus his revenge motivation for the season.
"You know I don't get involved in the emotional roller coaster," Morris said. "And I'm going to help balance that and not ride it. I'm going to help him balance the fact that none of that matters. Help him develop that smooth, keen, killer instinct that I want my whole team to develop. To attack and win championships. To be to put a little balance in his life. It will be good for him.
“We knew (what we were getting in Bowers), the scrutiny came from you guys. We were pretty confidant when we took him with the risk and reward right from the first day we drafted him. I am extremely excited to see him get out there. I'm sure you guys saw him in the walk-through in the crouching tiger stance."
For Bowers his practice was dream come true for him, and his mentor former Buccaneer Gaines Adams that passed away in January of 2010.
“Definitely Gaines is my big brother. I miss him, but it is a coincidental thing that I would end up here where he played,” said Bowers. “With all the things he did for me and how much he cared about me, I’m just living his dream right now.”
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