Bucs' Bowers still playing catchup after injury

Greg Schiano, left, publicly and privately has pushed Da'Quan Bowers, who has admitted his conditioning entering camp was not what it should have been.
Greg Schiano, left, publicly and privately has pushed Da'Quan Bowers, who has admitted his conditioning entering camp was not what it should have been.
Published Aug. 31, 2013

TAMPA — It has been 10 months since Da'Quan Bowers was cleared to play after rehabbing a ruptured Achilles tendon. But in a way, the Bucs defensive end said, he still is feeling the effects.

Bowers was injured in May 2012 while working out at One Buc Place and didn't play a game until late October. In between, he missed coach Greg Schiano's first training camp.

"It kind of hurt me this year coming into camp," Bowers said, "because I didn't know quite what to expect."

It is an interesting perspective coming at the end of a preseason in which Bowers, 23, in his third year out of Clemson, did not turn into the every-down player Tampa Bay had envisioned.

Schiano publicly and privately has pushed Bowers, who has admitted his conditioning entering camp was not what it should have been.

In Thursday's 30-12 preseason-finale loss to the Redskins, the 2011 second-round draft pick entered as a third-down rusher and had a tackle and an assist. He had five tackles in the preseason, zero sacks and is clearly behind Daniel Te'o-Nesheim on the depth chart.

"He's getting there," Schiano said Friday. "You'd like him to be starting, playing every down, but I'd like every guy to be that. Da'Quan is progressing, and that's good. As a coach, you always want it to be faster, and quite frankly, I'm sure the player does as well.

"What I said for the whole team applies to Da'Quan If he can continue that climb, he's very talented and would be a really good player."

Bowers, 6 feet 4, 288 pounds, rated his preseason as "decent."

Asked what kind of shape he is in, he said, "pretty good."

"I'm glad I played a lot of snaps this season. I needed it," he said, "not only for my conditioning but to get myself in the swing of things. So, the preseason has helped me. I was very grateful for the preseason."

HOBBLING: TE Tom Crabtree was on crutches with his left ankle heavily wrapped because of what Schiano called a "significant" high ankle sprain sustained against the Redskins. There is no timetable for his return.

The injury will not force the team to acquire a tight end, Schiano said, adding Nate Byham and "some other guys" are expected to pick up the slack.

MORE INJURIES: RB Mike James hurt an eye against the Redskins. "That one, we're not sure where that lies," Schiano said, adding he did not know the cause of the injury. "You don't hear of that very often. We need to delve deeper into that." … CB Rashaan Melvin (hamstring) is being evaluated, Schiano said, and RB Peyton Hillis (ankle) is sore but "will be okay."

CUTDOWN DAYS: The Bucs need to be at the 53-player limit by 6 p.m. today, though Schiano indicated he had begun the process.

"It's a hard day," he said. "This is a good group of people. They've busted their rear ends for this organization."

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LEARNING EXPERIENCE: Schiano acknowledged rookie QB Mike Glennon didn't have his best game Thursday. But the coach also said Glennon, who was 7 for 16 passing for 63 yards and an interception, remains Josh Freeman's primary backup.

"I told him that once in a while you're going to have one of these," Schiano said. "Don't have too many."

ODDS AND ENDS: After a 2012 rookie season in which he played three games and did not record a tackle, LB Najee Goode led Tampa Bay in the preseason with 21 tackles and 17 solos. … Of CB Johnthan Banks, who is fighting for a starting spot, Schiano said, "(He) impressed me, a fierce competitor, skills. A rookie, but the skills are there."