Buccaneers defensive end Da’Quan Bowers suffered an Achilles tendon injury this week and is looking at his season ending before it ever begins. Though reports are the Bucs may place him on the PUP list in case he recovers before season’s end, once he rehabs and gets into game shape, the chances he gets to make a significant impact are slim. Initial reaction by most fans and media was one considered as a big loss. While his injury certainly hurts the team, it’s not as significant as believed.
Bowers ran in a rotation with Micheal Bennett and has even seen time at tackle when Gerald McCoy was injured. In his rookie season, Bowers totaled only 25 tackles and 1.5 sacks. A majority of those totals came in week 13 against the Carolina Panthers. He racked up 8 tackles and his season total 1.5 sacks in just that one game. Without that production, Bowers would have had a very pedestrian season. The injury is significant in terms of depth and just how quickly things could fall apart if Bennett or Adrian Clayborn were to get injured as well. If there is a silver lining, it’s that the injury occurred early enough for the team to go hunting once teams begin trimming their rosters and releasing veterans at the end position. It will also allow the Bucs to evaluate George Johnson and E.J. Wilson.
George Johnson was a stud for Greg Schiano at Rutgers but has been more of a developmental project since coming to the Bucs. The same can be said about former North Carolina standout E.J. Wilson. Though Butch Davis is not running on the field practices, his time coaching Wilson gives him great insight on what he can do.
As will be discussed on 1010am CBS radio “Two Hand Touch” Sunday morning, many have raised concerns about so many former Rutgers players being signed by the team. In the case of Johnson, Wilson and newer recruits like Gary Gibson and Jordan Nix, having a familiarity with these players can provide dividends. Both coaches know exactly what these players are capable of and that comes in handy when injury strikes. Though none of the players have achieved notoriety, having the same coach around from their college days could be what helps them turn the corner. Schiano and Davis have each helped these players come of age during college. It’s tough enough transitioning to the NFL life, more so when you have a new boss and different way of doing things. By returning to familiarity and coaches who know what makes them tick best, seeing these former Scarlet Knights and Tar Heels flourish would not be a surprise.
Da’Quan Bowers has great potential and has shown flashes of dominance. His loss will be missed on the field, but it is not a production level Johnson or another candidate can’t fill. Greg Schiano and Mark Dominik have signed enough talent at the other injury plagued position of DT to ensure they have solid depth. Now, that focus is likely to shift towards defensive end. Expect his void to be filled well before the season begins.
Unlike previous seasons, the Bucs have options. The loss of Bowers is not as significant as it once could have been. Now lets just hope the injury bug stops there.