Da'Quan Bowers on the hot seat?

TAMPA, Fla. -- A few months before the 2011 draft, Da'Quan Bowers was being talked about as the possible first overall selection. Now, the fourth-year defensive end might not even make the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' roster.

Bowers, who dropped to the second round of the draft due to concerns about a knee injury, has had a disappointing career to this point. There was some thought that the arrival of new coach Lovie Smith might give Bowers a fresh start and help him prosper. But Smith said some pretty revealing things about Bowers on Wednesday. Bowers has been sidelined by a groin injury and missed another practice Wednesday.

"I think every day you don't practice you're hurting your chances," Smith said. "We've seen enough to like Da'Quan a lot, but all the reps that he's not getting, someone else is getting. The best way to beat your competition sometimes is just to stay on the field. You can't get Wally Pipped."

The Bucs have some other young defensive ends (William Gholston and Steven Means) that they're high on. The Bucs also have experimented some with Bowers lining up at defensive tackle. But the missed practice time obviously hasn't helped Bowers' stock.

"Da'Quan is trying to get back," Smith said. "I think he has a future in the league whether it be as a defensive end outside or more of a third-down rush guy inside."

But there obviously is some doubt that Bowers' future is with the Buccaneers.