Friday, December 15, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Da'Quan Bowers will return to practice for Buccaneers

TAMPA — Da'Quan Bowers will take a major step this week toward overcoming his devastating offseason injury.

The Bucs defensive end, who ruptured his Achilles tendon during conditioning in May, will rejoin the team in practice Wednesday under guidelines governing the physically-unable-to-perform list.

Players on PUP cannot practice during the first six weeks of the season. After that, teams have 21 days to decide whether the player is ready to resume practicing. 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 does not guarantee Bowers will play this season. Schiano remains confident, but the Bucs must decide if and when to place him on the 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."

Bowers overcame a pre-draft knee surgery in 2011, one that caused a 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.

THE CLOSER: The Bucs always planned to use RBs Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount as a duo, but the specifics of that arrangement can vary from game to game.

Sunday, the Bucs enjoyed the ideal scenario, with Martin enjoying success early, allowing the physical, big-bodied Blount to finish things off. Blount ran five consecutive times on the Bucs' final drive for 53 yards, the final 12 for a touchdown.

"That is a nice model," Schiano said. "You're darn right. After playing for three hours in the 85-degree heat and now you have a 250-pound man coming at you. That would work nice regardless of how he was used earlier. That will kind of change week to week, but that played out well."

SLOTTING: The Bucs have used a number of options as slot receivers since releasing Preston Parker last month, and are enjoying success.

Sunday, Vincent Jackson's second touchdown catch came when he was lined up in the slot. Tiquan Underwood and Mike Williams also rotated into the position.

Underwood's addition has given the Bucs some flexibility in who they line up in the slot, allowing advantageous matchups or different routes in a different area of the field.

"You have Vincent and Mike on the outside, now you have a guy (Underwood) who can play the inside as well as the outside and you have the ability to bring those guys inside, too," receivers coach P.J. Fleck said. "And there's still speed. You don't lose anything on the outside."

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @HolderStephen.

Comments
Rick and Tom podcast: Is Dirk Koetter fighting for his job?

Rick and Tom podcast: Is Dirk Koetter fighting for his job?

In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones discuss whether Dirk Koetter is fighting for his job the final three weeks of season. Is there a rift between him and Jameis Winston? Has Winston shown enough progress this year? And who are the Glaz...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs’ Lavonte David misses practice with hamstring injury

Bucs’ Lavonte David misses practice with hamstring injury

TAMPA — The Bucs knew they might be playing without DT Gerald McCoy, who suffered a biceps injury early in Sunday’s loss to the Lions. But now they face the prospect of playing Monday against Atlanta without another of their defensive leaders, as LB ...
Published: 12/14/17
USF’s Nigel Harris eager for chance with hometown Bucs

USF’s Nigel Harris eager for chance with hometown Bucs

When Nigel Harris chose where to play college football, he wanted to stay home in Tampa at USF. And now, after playing for the Chargers and Giants as an NFL rookie, he's grateful for the chance to again prove himself in Tampa as the newest member of ...
Published: 12/14/17
NFL Week 15: Tampa Bay Times staff picks

NFL Week 15: Tampa Bay Times staff picks

Week 15 starts and ends with disappointment — a Thursday night meeting of two of the more disappointing teams (Denver at Indianapolis) and a Monday night game that once had held high hopes locally (Atlanta at Tampa Bay). Once.Here's our picks f...
Published: 12/14/17
Measuring Jameis Winston’s progress, and Dirk Koetter’s job security

Measuring Jameis Winston’s progress, and Dirk Koetter’s job security

TAMPA — It is one of the most honest moments of the season, captured in the first Hard Knocks episode. Jameis Winston is having a frank conversation with coach Dirk Koetter, seated behind his desk in his office at One Buc Place."I just want to have a...
Published: 12/14/17
Jones: If you were Jon Gruden, what would you do?

Jones: If you were Jon Gruden, what would you do?

What would you do?If you were Jon Gruden, what would you do?Well, you could go to Hooter’s and order a pitcher of beer and dozen wings. Then, Monday, you could go be inducted into the Bucs’ Ring of Honor.I’m talking about after that.Would you stay i...
Published: 12/14/17
Rick and Tom podcast: Dirk Koetter, Evan Longoria, Stanley Cup and more

Rick and Tom podcast: Dirk Koetter, Evan Longoria, Stanley Cup and more

Rick Stroud and Tom Jones answer a lightning round of questions.
Published: 12/14/17
Bucs’ Mike Evans gives the gift of perspective

Bucs’ Mike Evans gives the gift of perspective

TAMPA — So, this is Christmas.The Bucs are having an awful season. There is no way around it. Star receiver Mike Evans isn’t having a great year, either, not nearly as many catches or touchdowns as last season, when he was selected for the Pro Bowl.S...
Published: 12/13/17
Warren Sapp on sexual harassment allegations: ‘Ain’t no #MeToo’

Warren Sapp on sexual harassment allegations: ‘Ain’t no #MeToo’

Warren Sapp vehemently denied allegations that he sexually harassed a female employee when he worked at the NFL Network during a radio appearance this afternoon in Miami."Ain’t no #MeToo," the former Buc and Pro Football Hall of Famer said on the And...
Published: 12/13/17
Cannon Fodder podcast: Gerald McCoy still wants to play

Cannon Fodder podcast: Gerald McCoy still wants to play

Greg Auman has an update in his latest podcast while the Bucs have two days off during the long week.
Published: 12/13/17