The Tampa Bay Bucs were dealt a harsh blow last Sunday, and I don’t just mean the loss to the Cowboys. Disruptive defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn, a former first-round pick, went down for the season with a knee injury. He tore his MCL, partially tore his ACL, and will almost certainly need surgery.
For a Bucs D-line that has stopped the run better than anyone, it stings. And that’s especially true because they haven’t been quite as effective pressuring quarterbacks. Clayborn has no sacks this year, but he’s definitely tough to block, generating a lot of attention.
How will the Bucs defense make up for this loss? Well, temporarily, they signed DE Jeff Charleston. But for the long term, they have a better option. It’s one that I almost forgot about until I started asking around while the Cowboys played the Bucs Sunday.
Did you know the plan is for DE Da’Quan Bowers to return this year? And that it may happen by the end of October? Don’t blame yourself if you didn’t. I kinda overlooked him, too.
The ex-Clemson star, whose stock slipped from being a first-rounder to being a second-rounder because of concerns about his knee last draft, tore his Achilles in May. The Bucs put him on the Physically Unable to Perform list, just on the possibility that he could return. And, I’m told, rehab is going extremely well. So well, in fact, that the Bucs are expecting he’ll be back in 2012.
Instead of tearing the Achilles and having it completely explode off the bone like often happens, I’m told Bowers’ simply tore off the heel bone. That has quickened rehab dramatically. Bowers is working like crazy to return, and he told reporters that he’ll do what the team asks in terms of being activated.
“It’s up to coach (Greg) Schiano and (GM) Mark Dominik at the end of the day,” Bowers told reporters, including the Tampa Bay Times. “We’ll see what they decide, and if they think they can put me in. If they feel like they want to save me, I’m fine with that either way.”
The trade deadline was moved back this year, all the way to Oct. 30. The Bucs may have been looking for D-line help, and they still may. But getting back a guy like Bowers, the 6-foot-4, 277-pound pass-rusher, would be like trading for a starter. Bowers began to show really strong improvement last year, with 1.5 sacks and more than half of his tackles (14 of his 25) in the last four games. He’ll continue the process of improving this year.
When could he return? Maybe against the Vikings or Raiders. Something for the Bucs to anticipate. Now for the next question. What does it mean for Ravens LB Terrell Suggs?