Bucs optimistic on Da'Quan Bowers

TAMPA, Fla. -- There was widespread assumption that Da’Quan Bowers would miss the entire season after he tore his Achilles tendon in May.

But Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik said Monday morning that’s not a foregone conclusion. In fact, Dominik expressed optimism that the second-year defensive end could return near the midway point of the season.

“He’s ahead of schedule in terms of his surgery was very successful,’’ Dominik said. “His rehab has been very successful. The only thing we’re doing now is limiting what he can do to try to keep him from overexerting himself because he feels so good.’’

Dominik said the current plan is for Bowers to begin the season on the PUP list, which means he’ll miss the first six games of the season. Domink isn’t ready to guarantee a return by Bowers this season, but he sounded very optimistic about that possibility.

“He’ll end up on the PUP list and we’ll have to make a determination sometime in October,’’ Domink said. “But it’s encouraging to know that that’s at least going to be up for discussion. Instead of worrying about 2013, we’re still talking about 2012.’’

Getting Bowers back at midseason could provide a big boost for the Bucs. Prior to the injury, he was being viewed as the likely starter opposite fellow second-year defensive end Adrian Clayborn. Michael Bennett now appears ticketed for the other starting job. But Bowers could return and join the rotation.