Da'Quan Bowers takes the next step, returns to practice this week
Da’Quan Bowers will take a major step this week toward overcoming his devastating offseason injury.
The Bucs defensive end ruptured his Achilles tendon during conditioning in May, but on Wednesday he’ll re-join his teammates in practice now that he’s permitted under guidelines governing players on the physically unable to perform list.
Players on PUP cannot practice during the first six weeks of the season. But after that, teams have 21 days in which to decide whether the player is ready to resume practicing. In this case, Bowers already has convinced the Bucs he’s there, coach Greg Schiano said.
“He’ll do some stuff the rest of this week and we’ll just observe and kind of go from there and see how he responds,” Schiano said.
This latest development, while certainly promising, does not guarantee Bowers will play this season. Schiano remains confident Bowers will suit up, but the Bucs still must decide if and when to place him on their active roster. Once he practices, the clock begins on a 21-day window in which the Bucs must place Bowers on the active roster or injured reserve.
“You really just have to play it by ear,” Schiano said. “It’s how he responds to increased workload as he does a little more. He’s done an incredible job in his rehab, but it’s like four different phases.
“One is the post-surgical, where you’re just kind of waiting. Then it’s the training room. Then it’s out on the grass where he’s working with our trainers and strength coach, running and pushing things. And now here comes the fourth part, and that is actually playing. And that’s different. It’s the torquing and twisting and all the things you have to do as a defensive lineman. So we need to see how he responds to doing that and then we’ll act accordingly.”
Bowers overcame a pre-draft knee surgery in 2011 – one that caused a precipitous fall from the first-round to the late second – and ended last season as one of the team’s bright spots. He had overtaken Michael Bennett as the starting left end and was expected to assume the role again before his latest injury.