TAMPA — Da'Quan Bowers' slide to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round of the NFL draft wasn't the outcome the defensive end hoped for, but Bowers is steadily working toward a return from knee surgery that he hopes will ultimately allow him to become the player many thought he could be.
Bowers' agent, Joe Flanagan, addressed a number of issues this week regarding Bowers' recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery and the procedure's short- and long-term effects. He said Bowers expects to be ready for training camp and there have been no setbacks. He also called into question suggestions that Bowers will encounter serious knee problems down the line.
Because draft picks cannot consult with their new teams on medical care during the NFL lockout, Bowers is working out at Clemson University under the care of the training staff there, along with other former Tiger players now in the NFL.
Flanagan said he's aware of some of the rumors before and since the draft about his client — they range from suggestions that certain teams never considered him to the possibility that he'll never recover — but Flanagan said there is nothing to suggest any of it is true.
"I do know what people have said," Flanagan said. "But given the procedure in January, he's way ahead of schedule."
Bowers' rehab plan calls for him to be conservative, but Flanagan said Bowers is doing a great deal of strength training on the knee plus a lot of basic conditioning. He said the Bucs will determine Bowers' timeline but added that there is no reason for concern about his rookie season being interrupted.
"I've always been told that training camp is not going to be an issue," Flanagan said. "But that's (general manager) Mark Dominik's decision at this point. I do know that Da'Quan is champing at the bit. If anything, we're having to hold him back (from doing too much). He feels great."
There have been reports that Bowers was considered by some teams a "one-contract player" because his knee would not support a long career. Flanagan offered input from renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, one of the physicians overseeing Bowers' rehab.
"Dr. Andrews said if there were going to be problems (down the road), they'd show up pretty quick," Flanagan said. "He hasn't had any swelling, soreness or pain. He hasn't had to back off at all. He didn't have a good workout on the field (at his pro day) but the fact that he did the workout at all was impressive."
So, given all this, why wasn't Bowers, a projected top-10 pick before the surgery, drafted earlier? Flanagan said there are several reasons, including the fact that many were afraid to be wrong about a high draft pick, despite undeniable talent. And Flanagan said some team doctors were reluctant to sign off on Bowers for fear that any future problems would jeopardize their jobs.
"Privately, tons of clubs have said if they could have gotten their medical staffs to okay it, they would have loved to have done it," Flanagan said.
Talib hearing reset
A Dallas County grand jury, scheduled to hear evidence in the Texas shooting case involving Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib, has been tentatively reset to May 25, according to attorney Frank Perez.
Talib is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second degree felony which carries a punishment of two to 20 years in prison, for his role in a March 21 shooting in Garland, Texas.
Police say Talib tried to pistol whip, and later fired gunshots at, his sister's boyfriend, Shannon Billings. Nobody was injured. Talib's mother, Okolo, faces similar charges.
Around the league
LOCKOUT: The NFL and its locked-out players wrapped up another round of court-ordered mediation Tuesday in Minneapolis with no signs of a new agreement. Officials and attorneys for both sides said they will return for more closed-door talks with U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan June 7, four days after a key appeals court hearing in St. Louis on the legality of the lockout. NFL lead negotiator Jeff Pash and Hall of Famer Carl Eller both said the talks went well, but there was no indication of significant progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement.
BROWNS: The team dismissed Jerry Butler as director of player development.
Times staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report, which used information from Times wires.