Da’Quan Bowers practiced with the Buccaneers on Wednesday, the first day of a three-week period in which the team can evaluate his health and determine whether to activate him to the 53-man roster. It was Bowers’ first practice since he suffered a torn Achilles tendon on May 10.
That was an important step for Bowers, who has maintained ever since his injury, in the face of some skepticism, that he would return to action in 2012. It is looking more and more likely that he was right, but it is not particularly likely that he will return this Sunday against New Orleans.
“No I don’t think so,” said Head Coach Greg Schiano after Bowers’ first practice, which he deemed ‘pretty good.’ “I mean there’s a chance but that wouldn’t be what we want to do. I think we have to make sure we go very deliberately with this and see how it feels and then do it some more. It was a minimal work load today. We are going to ease our way into this thing.”
Schiano said the exact timing of Bowers’ expected return to game action is a “medical decision,” but he was hopeful that it would come during this 21-day window. Bowers could conceivably be put on the 53-man roster even if he is not quite ready at the end of those three weeks, and simply deactivated on game days until he is.
Bowers seems confident the timetable will be quicker than that, however.
“I don’t think there’s any chance of anything going wrong,” he said. “I’m good to go, and it’s up to Coach Schiano and myself now about how to handle it. Right now, I don’t want to put myself out there – those guys have been playing as well as they have, and I don’t want to be that one guy who’s not ready to go. We’ll have to see how everything goes the rest of the week.”
Bowers said he had to get used to the tempo of a Schiano practice, something his teammates have had months to become accustomed to. But both he and Schiano said that his conditioning and strength work during his rehab was excellent, which means he’s closer to being in ‘football shape’ than he could have been.
Still, it remains something of a waiting game for Bowers, if one with an ending much closer in sight. Bowers is aware that some believed he was being overly optimistic in the weeks after his injury when he predicted this return, but he says he was basing his feelings on solid information…and it appears he was right.
“The people that said that weren’t doctors,” he said. “The doctors told me when I did it that there was a chance I could play this year. That was why I was so optimistic about my chances to play. There’s still a chance that I could play this week or next week, we just don’t know. I think the main thing now is to get back into the swing of things, blend back in with my teammates and get those reps.”