Strong play at defensive end means Bucs can take their time with Bowers
The Bucs say they’ll be cautious in determining how quickly to press Da’Quan Bowers into action as he comes off the physically unable to perform list this week.
But coach Greg Schiano has never backed off his stance that he anticipates Bowers will play this season despite suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon in May.
So, let’s assume Bowers makes it back. The question then becomes, what role might be assume?
The likely answer – though much will depend on what kind of shape Bowers is in – is that he’ll be a rotational player at defensive end.
Right now, left end Michael Bennett is having the best season of his career. He’s not going to be leaving the field for extended periods given the consistency of his play. And at right end, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim is coming off a promising performance against the Chiefs and is showing he might have some significant upside.
It’s quite possible the Bucs will decide they have a good thing going at defensive end and won’t want to make substantial changes in the lineup. That’s not something anyone might have predicted after losing starting right end Adrian Clayborn (on top of Bowers), but the play of the defensive line has not dropped off precipitously.
So, what to do with Bowers, who is due to resume practicing on Wednesday? If healthy, he could be used in a situational capacity. Perhaps Schiano sees him as a potential elite pass rusher and opts to use him when there are optimum pass-rushing opportunities. Or, maybe the Bucs prefer to take advantage of his size and bulk and use him in running situations.
Bowers’ ability to play in either scenario gives the Bucs flexibility in how they decide to use him.
But most important, the current results at defensive end will make this an easier transition for Bowers, allowing the coaching staff to truly be judicious in how and when it uses him.