TAMPA — Though it's not clear when DE Da'Quan Bowers will return, Bucs coach Greg Schiano said Thursday he anticipates it will be this season.
Bowers, who tore his right Achilles in May, has been on the physically unable to perform list and is rehabilitating after surgery. He can be activated after Sunday's game against the Chiefs, then practice for two weeks before the team must put him on the roster or season-ending injured reserve.
"He's improving," Schiano said of the 2011 second-round draft pick who had 30 tackles and 11/2 sacks as a rookie.
"We're going to be very, very conservative and not going to rush that situation. But I can tell you from the things I've seen, I'm really encouraged."
With DE Adrian Clayborn, a first-round pick in 2011, sustaining a season-ending knee injury in Week 3, getting Bowers back would be a big boost. Daniel Te'o-Nesheim has filled in for Clayborn.
Bowers said a few weeks ago he was making a lot of progress and it would be up to Schiano and GM Mark Dominik to allow him to come back. Schiano said he feels much better about the situation than in the offseason.
"You hear a guy has to get his Achilles operated on, you're like 'Oooh,' " Schiano said. "But watching the stuff he's done out there on the field in rehab, that's good stuff."
Another injury: DT Roy Miller did not practice Thursday due to a back injury. He also dealt with back pain last season. His status for Sunday had not been determined.
QUINN IN: The Chiefs ruled out QB Matt Cassel due to a concussion, leaving Brady Quinn the starter Sunday. Tampa Bay's coaches expect a slight difference in quarterback play with Quinn in.
The mobility and size of Quinn, whose last start was Dec. 12, 2009, with the Browns, could factor into the game plan, Schiano said.
"(Quinn) has played quarterback in this league," Schiano said. "The thing that may be different in his skill set is that he's a more mobile guy, maybe a little stouter guy. Does that mean more moving pocket stuff? Maybe."
FAMILIAR FACE: Rookie CB Leonard Johnson is looking forward to a Largo High reunion with Chiefs WR Dexter McCluster. Johnson, who played two seasons with McCluster at Largo, said the two haven't faced each other since youth league.
McCluster, a 2010 second-round pick out of Mississippi, offered guidance about the draft and agents when Johnson came out of Iowa State.
"I was asking (Largo coach Rick) Rodriguez which one of us is he going to be cheering for," Johnson said, smiling. "He said, 'I can't cheer for either one; just hope you do well and he does well also.' "
Times staff writer Stephen F. Holder contributed to this report. Joe Smith can be reached at email@example.com.