Da’Quan Bowers didn’t hold back on Thursday night. The Bucs aren’t likely to hold him back much longer, either.
In his first game since suffering a torn Achilles tendon in a May workout, Bowers subbed in on passing downs in the Bucs’ 36-17 win at Minnesota. He got about a dozen snaps of action, which was exactly what the team was hoping for. The next day, he reported no swelling or pain in his surgically-repaired ankle, and that was still the case when the team got back on the practice field Monday.
“I felt really good actually,” said Bowers. “I didn’t do a whole lot of run plays but I got a lot of pass-rushing in. Coach had a plan, so we followed the plan strictly, and he enforced it. It was a good day for me. I definitely wasn’t tentative. If I thought I was going to be tentative towards it I don’t think I would have even gone out on the field.”
In that Monday practice, Bowers took some reps in first and second-down situations, a strong indication that he would get a bigger piece of action this coming Sunday in Oakland. Head Coach Greg Schiano said that Bowers took part in some “three-play sequences” on Monday and could get more if he reacts well to the increased action.
“Now we are taking the next step and that’s playing back-to-back-to-back plays,” said Schiano. “We will see how he does today and then if everything is good on Wednesday, maybe he goes four plays and just try to get him back in to this thing slowly. But he does have a pop to him that is good to have back.”
Bowers is confident he’ll be able to take the next step quickly.
“I’m definitely working my way back in there,” he said. “Now I think it’s more of a ‘wind’ thing, getting back in shape, getting my wind back. I don’t mind doing first and second downs, I’m not only a pass-rush guy. Coach and I have talked about taking steps towards that progress. Hopefully by Sunday I can get in on some first and second-down situations.”
Bowers didn’t record a tackle or sack in his small dose of plays on Thursday night, but he did show some good burst off the line, and he was there to bury QB Christian Ponder in the backfield after Ponder recovered a fumbled snap. Bowers contributed to what was, overall, the team’s best pass-rush outing in a month.
“He gives us an added mix with a lot of explosion and speed off the edge,” said DT Gerald McCoy. “Especially missing [Adrian] Clayborn, having Bowers back kind of fills that void.”