The return of Da’Quan Bowers from the PUP list could make an already strong Buccaneers’ run defense even better.
Though he led the nation in sacks in his final year at Clemson in 2010, Bowers is not a 260-pound situational pass-rusher. He runs closer to 290 pounds and has a thick frame that makes him difficult to move at the end of the line. Before the 2011 draft, the NFL.com scouting report on Bowers called him “a complete player against the run who can hold up at the point of attack or chase down plays from the backside.” It also said he “can anchor at the point of attack, use his strength and hands to get off blocks and jolt ball carriers with his short area explosion.”
According to some in-depth analysis on FootballOutsiders.com, Bowers fulfilled that scouting report during his rookie season. The FO analysis showed 21 running plays directed at Bowers, with opponents averaging 1.7 yards per attempt on those plays. In that metric, Bowers ranked 15th in the NFL among defensive ends. Bowers was credited with stopping the play from being successful (as defined here) on 17 of the 21, giving him a stop percentage of 81.1% that ranked 26th in the NFL.
It’s not clear yet how much Bowers will play in his first game since last December, but whatever he can contribute will be helpful in perhaps the most important matchup of tonight’s contest. Minnesota is likely to continue giving the football to its hot hand, RB Adrian Peterson, who ranks third in the NFC in rushing and was the conference’s offensive player of the Week last week. However, the Bucs counter with the NFL’s third-ranked rush defense, which has already fared well against the likes of Jamaal Charles, DeMarco Murray and Jonathan Stewart.