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September 18, 2012 @ 4:50 pm
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Bowers Has Become A Student Of The Game

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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Buccaneers DE Da'Quan Bowers has used his time away from the football field to become a student of the game and vows to bring what he's learned in the film room to Tampa Bay's pass rush as he hopes to return from the PUP (physically unable to perform) list next month.
In Tampa Bay’s 41-34 loss at New York, the Buccaneers failed to sack quarterback Eli Manning once despite the fact that he attempted 51 passes on Sunday. That didn’t sit well with any of the Bucs defensive linemen that rushed Manning, nor did it sit well with Da’Quan Bowers, who has been on the team’s PUP (physically unable to perform) list while rehabbing a torn Achilles tendon he suffered in April.

“It was definitely motivation for me,” Bowers said. “Any time I see my brothers out there in battle it definitely hits a nerve. I want to be out there going through everything with them. I think when I get back it will be an extra little burst for the D-line so we can free up some other players and we can make some more plays on the quarterback.”

The Bucs are hopeful that Bowers can return to the field in October after he spends the first six weeks of the season on the sidelines. When he comes off the PUP list, a more educated Bowers will join Tampa Bay’s pass rush. 

“Being that it’s a possibility for me to play this year – it hits home with me,” Bowers said. “A lot of people said that when the injury happened that I was definitely done for the year. It was not a good situation that it happened, but it couldn’t have happened at a better time. It gave me enough time to rehab and get on the right path to make a comeback this year. If it had happened in training camp, I would have been lost for the whole year.

“It taught me a valuable lesson. I think I have become more studious of the game by watching more game film and watching practice. It’s helped the mental aspect of my game because I’m not able to do a lot. Being in meetings and taking a whole other shot at the playbook has been beneficial to me. Basically, I go to meetings with the team, watch practice and I try to help the players make corrections. I watch A.C. (Adrian Clayborn), I watch Gerald [McCoy], I watch everybody in practice and try to help them with the little things. I break down film with the coaches and do whatever I can help the D-line when it comes to game day.”

Despite not being able to practice with Tampa Bay’s new coaching staff due to the fact that he was injured so early in the offseason, he has established a great rapport with front seven coach Bryan Cox and defensive line coach Randy Melvin, who have encouraged him to watch more film and work on the mental side of football.

“They’ve been really helpful and they have been pushing me to come in and watch the film and take the mental reps and watch the practice footage and see what players are doing wrong and help correct them so I won’t have the same problems when I come back,” Bowers said. “It’s one thing to be behind and not be able to practice and be on the field, but at least I can stay in tune with the game plan and be in meetings for adjustments and correcting our game film and after practices.

“I’ve become a student of the game by learning how to break film down and learning how to take mental reps,” Bowers said. “I go through the footsteps in my mind and go through my assignments in my mind. When I come back I feel like I will be more in tune with the playbook and the game plans than I’ve ever been.”

In Raheem Morris’ defense last year, Bowers, who was Tampa Bay’s second-round pick, posted 30 tackles (19 solo), five tackles for loss, five passes defensed, 1.5 sacks and one fumble recovery.

“I thought I made a lot of progress, but then again, there was a ton of progress that had to be made,” Bowers said. “There are some things I had to learn and I’m still learning. That’s the difference between this league and college. You have players that reach their pinnacle before others and I haven’t reached mine yet. I’m still learning and trying to get better each and every day. I’m learning the entire defense – not only my job, but everybody’s job.”

Bowers led the nation in college in sacks in 2010 with 15.5 and was tied for the lead with 26 tackles for loss. Although he has yet to practice a single down in Tampa Bay’s new defense, which is blend of the systems used by head coach Greg Schiano and defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, the second-year defensive end already loves it.

“This new defense is definitely a benefit to me,” Bowers said. “I’ll be playing some four technique, playing between the tackles and attacking – it’s real similar to the style of defense we ran at Clemson. I think I have the size and the build for this defense. A lot of guys don’t like to play between the tackles, but I don’t have a problem with it because of my size and strength, and the size of my legs and the power that I play with.”

Although Bowers still weighs 286 pounds, which was his playing weight last year, he has transformed his upper body in the weight room and looks more muscular under the guidance of new strength and conditioning coach Jay Butler.

“Being that I couldn’t do anything lower body for a while, I was definitely hitting the weights hard,” Bowers said. “I asked Coach Jay to give me a plan and take me through the process. I’ve been lifting ever since two weeks after my injury.”

Although Bowers will miss the first six weeks of the 2012 regular season, he was able to play in all 16 games a year ago despite having offseason surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus. That injury was expected to cause Bowers to miss part of his rookie season, and the questions surrounding his knee caused the former top 10 pick to slide into the second round where Tampa Bay selected him with the 52nd overall pick.

Some NFL teams expected him to have immediate and long-term ramifications to his knee following the surgery, but Bowers didn’t experience any issues at all in 2011.

“I had no problems with my knee last year,” Bowers said. “A lot of people blew it out of proportion. People were making a big deal of it without reason. Todd did a great job of monitoring it and keeping it real simple for me. I was almost pissed at him every day because I couldn’t do much, but he did a great job. Mark Dominik did a great job for me. Raheem did everything he said he would do to make sure I was ready to play and make it through the whole season.”

Bowers notched his 1.5 sacks against Carolina on December 4 while starting for the injured Michael Bennett at left defensive end, and he was excited that his first NFL sack came against Cam Newton, who was sacked three times in Tampa Bay’s 16-10 season-opening win two weeks ago.

“We kind of joked about it before the draft last year,” Bowers said. “Cam and I built a friendship through the draft process, and we played them in college. They got me at Clemson, but it was my turn to get him. We joked about it. I think I made a statement that game that I could play in this league where a lot of people said I wouldn’t be ready for Game 1 or Game 12 or 13. I didn’t have problems injury-wise.”

While Bowers missed his chance to sack Newton in Week 1, he will have another shot at him in Carolina on November 18 about a month after his expected to return to action for the Buccaneers. When Bowers takes the field he will do so as a student of the game, watching game film from the Buccaneers new defense to former and current NFL legendary pass rushers in an effort to hone his craft.

“In this league there are so many different guys that bring so many different things to the game,” Bowers said. “You definitely have to watch guys like Michael Strahan. He and I are similarly built and he played on the left side. Reggie White – guys like that, too. You also have to watch guys from the new era like DeMarcus Ware and Dwight Freeney. You want to watch everybody and see what is working for different people and see what they are doing against the guy you are playing against next week and see what worked for them. I can’t wait to see what’s going to work for me.”

Last modified on Tuesday, 18 September 2012 21:57

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  • avatar

    Bowers was a big bargain in the second round and I believe he will become our best DE by far. Don't forget before his injury, he was being touted as the first player who would be taken in the draft. When the Bucs won the Super Bowl it required one outstanding interior defensive linemen-Sapp, and one great DE, and one super linebacker. I think Bowers can be our Super DE in the remaking of the great Bucs Team. I think David will pan out as good as any linebacker to ever play for the Bucs. Gerald McCoy will be our Super DL, and Barron will replace our great safety on that great team too. I see greatness in this teams future!
  • avatar

    Music to my ears. I expect Bowers to be on the same schedule as any other player coming off the PUP. He'll be out 4 more weeks, he'll practice another week or two then he'll be ready to go. That means I expect him to play at least the last 8 games.
  • avatar

    Im just glad... and excited that Bowers will be back soon. Go bucs!!!
  • avatar

    IIRC, Dr. Andrews of Birmingham disputed that 4-5 year estimate of the length of Bowers career. Could be wrong. Also, I don't think it was intimated that we should TRADE for Andre Carter; he is a FA. They could bring him in for a tryout and see if he has anything left.
  • avatar

    Eli Manning is hard to sack; stick him behind a pretty good Oline, and sacking him may not be the goal; they should have played much more coverage. I've often been critical of players coming back from torn ligaments; but, I seem to have forgotten examples like Eric Allen back in his raider days; he came back and played well in just one year. It's a sign of how disciplined a player is if a player comes back within a year after a torn acl; if he doesn't, I guess the given player hasn't quite figured out how to be that disciplined! I've said it before; the Giants are probably a little bit ahead of us even with Schiano's getting the Bucs to where they are now; one shouldn't expect to beat them; just to compete.
  • avatar

    It appears to me that Bowers might get back the last 4-6 games of the season. Perhaps he might be able to go in a couple plays, then building to a few plays, then several plays in the last of the games; maybe.
  • avatar

    I enjoyed this article and Bower's optimistic approach to his injury. I really didn't think he'd be back this season but now it sounds like a realistic possibility and I'm glad for him and the team. I KNOW we can use him in the rotation and for the second half push to national respectability I expect.
  • avatar

    I don't care who we take a flier on we need help on the line period, lets face it A. Claiborne is Stylz White reincarnated and Bennet is really a backup player at best, Bowers needs to come back ASAP!!!
  • avatar

    I have to agree with Mr Incred's concern on Bowers....when we drafted him the word on the street was that he could probably play 4-5 years in the NFL before his knee was finished. He has been with us for 2...and while he hasn't seen much of the field, as I understand it the deterioration in his knee will continue at some rate regardless. So maybe he has 2-3 years left, the first of which will be coming off an ACL injury. I don't think we should plan too much of our future on Bowers. I like him too and his injuries are a shame, but let's be realistic....
  • avatar

    Scubog- You just take everything so literally, like Roland really thought we should trade for Andre Carter. Oh, wait a minute, i guess that's what he actually said. Hmm. ok, anyway, i think this article says more about Bowers potential path as a coach than his proximity to the field as a player. Nice job covering your bases for after football, Da'Quan. Very smart given your injury history. I sure pray for him but we're foolish to ever count on any of production. One reason you get an Achilles injury is by favoring one leg over another. You know, because of a previous knee injury.
  • avatar

    That was a good interview. Bower's is saying all the right things for sure. Now let's see if he can do all the right things when he returns. I like Bowers and think he could be a difference-maker if he plays up to his potential. Looking forward to his return.
  • avatar

    Let me get this straight Roland. You think the Bucs can sign an over the hill player who has not gotten a sniff from any other team yet then trade him for a 4th round choice? Now that would be the best hood-wink since Richie got a 1st rounder for QB Craig Erickson. Maybe we can sign up Chad Johnson and show he can become a grown-up player and trade him for a 2nd rounder. The things I read on these posts get more entertaining every day.
  • avatar

    Man could we have used Bowers vs the G-men... Andre Carter would be a nice mentor to help Bowers and Claiborne reach their potential imo. He would have helped greatly vs the Giants and with the trade deadline being Week 8 I think it is a mistake not to grab him, showcase him and then get a 4th rounder potentially when Bowers came back healthy.
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