“Nobody realizes how hard it is to come back…” said Da’Quan Bowers, formulating a response to one of the questions that came from the large group of reporters surrounding him in the Buccaneers’ locker room on Friday afternoon. It was one day after he had played in his first game since suffering a torn Achilles tendon in May, actually just about 14 hours after he completed his incredible comeback from an injury many believed would wipe out his entire 2012 season.
The thing is, Bowers wasn’t talking about his own recent journey. “Nobody realizes how hard it is to come back…when you’re three games under .500,” was his full response, and it was in regards to a Buccaneer win over Minnesota that had moved the team to 3-4 rather than the far more depressing 2-5. Later, Bowers would talk about perseverance, but only as it related to his teammates’ ability to put on such a dominating midweek performance just four days after another grueling game against New Orleans.
Clearly, this is not a man who is dwelling on his own health. In fact, Bowers was emphatic on Friday that he is fully back, perhaps sensing some lingering skepticism over such a rapid return from a devastating injury.
“Perfect,” said Bowers, describing the state of his repaired Achilles tendon. “I haven’t had any swelling or anything out of it.”
The Buccaneers activated Bowers hours before Thursday’s game, just eight days into an evaluation period that could have lasted three weeks. He did not start but came in on third-down passing situations and ended up logging about a dozen snaps. That number is almost sure to go up as the season progresses, because Bowers showed during his rookie season that he can be a dynamic contributor on the Bucs’ D-Line. In one game against Carolina last year, he had 1.5 sacks and five tackles for loss.
“As time goes by, I’ll definitely increase,” said Bowers. “Twelve was a good number to start at, being that I hadn’t been running, football-wise, in such a long time. It’s something to get your lungs opened up. But it will definitely increase over the next few weeks.”
Though he’s fully secure in his repaired tendon, Bowers did admit that there were some extra emotions involved in playing in his first game since last season.
“It was a long-time coming; I worked so hard to get there,” he said. “I was excited to be out there with my teammates. I was excited to be out at warm-ups, just on the field at all. I had to channel my emotions in the right direction, but it worked out in our favor.”