Bowers Slowed By First Training CampSeptember 5th, 2013
Joe has been skeptical of the Bucs for not beefing up (at least a little) their defensive line in the offseason with at least some proven veteran among the handful that were available for the right shopping price.
Yes, the Bucs now have four defensive linemen on the roster that were third-day draft picks in 2013; that tells Joe how absolutely thin the defensive line was. To expect all four, much less one, to be a major contributor in making opposing quarterbacks eat grass is wishful thinking beyond reason.
Joe was concerned about the front line, in part, because that both Bucs rock star general manager Mark Dominik and commander Greg Schiano were confident Da’Quan Bowers could pick up where departed sack leader (and solid run-stopper) Michael Bennett left off.
Training camp came along and Bowers seemed to implode under the weight of the new responsibility. He was seen sucking major air on the sidelnes during practice and Schiano made a few not-so subtle jabs that Bowers had to pick up his game. Then, Bowers struggled in preseason games. Joe has been shaking his head for weeks how both the front office and coaching staff could swing and miss this badly in evaluating Bowers — at such a critical need area.
Well, Bowers, who really is a stand-up guy and as nice of a person you would ever want to chat with, mentioned something to Joe Wednesday that made all the sense in the world.
Bowers was going through his first NFL training camp.
When Bowers was a rookie, the Bucs as well as the NFL had an abbreviated training camp coming off the asinine lockout. Bowers also was coming off of knee surgery and was not a full-go for what passed as training camp. Bowers didn’t participate in training camp due to his torn Achilles suffered in April. So in his third year in the NFL, Bowers participated in his first, full-blown training camp and preseason.
Bowers discussed how Schiano has worked closely in getting Bowers ready to be an every-down player and how Bowers is responding to the intense coaching and practices.
“[Schiano] has invested a lot in me. He has believed in me. He has given me shots and I appreciate that. I owe it to this organization to be that guy who can play any down, anywhere and be dominant. Wherever they call me, it is my job to be the best I can. Coach has been leading me where I want to go. He is very particular in me elevating my game. It wasn’t easy; it hasn’t been easy; it still isn’t easy but we are working toward that goal.
“Just when you think you have arrived your destination changes and I don’t think that I have arrived. This is my actual first real training camp. I didn’t have a heavy load in training camp, this year didn’t have a training camp at all because of the Achilles tear. It is my [responsibility] not knowing the tempo, not knowing the pace of practices and not being ready for the heat. It is hard to play football in Tampa. It is hard to breathe but we use that to our advantage. I am good. My condition is great.“
Now this helps make sense of why Bowers may have struggled coming out of the gate in late July. What it doesn’t explain is why he didn’t start some preseason games and adapt through August, and how he is not listed atop the depth chart at defensive end.
The only thing Joe can figure is that Bowers was being asked to do a lot of new things, thus, has taken longer to develop than originally thought.