TAMPA, Fla. -- From a media standpoint, it's been a shame that Da'Quan Bowers hasn't done more on the field.
The guy is one of the best quotes in the Tampa Bay locker room. But, through the first three years of his NFL career, the defensive end hasn't been productive -- or relevant. But, as the Buccaneers began a three-day minicamp Tuesday, Bowers was brimming with confidence as he spoke to the media.
"Every year is a crucial year," Bowers said. "But this is a turning point in my career. I expect a lot of good things and I don't think this coaching change could have come at a better time for me."
A turning point in his career? The Bucs would love to see that happen from a guy that once was talked about as the possible first overall pick in the 2011 draft. But there's not a big track record to indicate Bowers can be a special player. He has produced 5.5 sacks over three seasons.
But, like the rest of his teammates, Bowers is getting a fresh start with coach Lovie Smith. It didn't take much reading between the lines to figure out that Bowers wasn't a big fan of former coach Greg Schiano and his defensive scheme.
"I'm not going to go into it," Bowers said. "Just say that we're ready to rush the passer with no restrictions this year. I'm not going to get into last year, but it's a better position for the whole defensive line."
The Bucs signed defensive end Michael Johnson as a free agent and he and Adrian Clayborn are the likely starters. That means Bowers might be playing for a backup role and maybe even a roster spot as he enters the final year of his contract.
Bowers said he takes responsibility for what's happened so far in his career. He currently weighs 280 pounds and wants to get down to 270 by training camp.
It all sounds good. But is it realistic to expect Bowers to suddenly become a star? Maybe so. But it's April, so there's still room for hope.
"It's a fresh start for everybody, myself included," Bowers said. "Last year was a tough year, not only for myself, but for this football team. Everybody's excited to have a fresh start. I'm looking forward to great things."