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Da'Quan Bowers thinks he can be elite

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers expected big things out of Da'Quan Bowers, but it hasn't shown up so far.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Da'Quan Bowers has shown flashes of dominance since joining the Buccaneers, but two seasons into his NFL career it can be called nothing more than a disappointment for a player at one point seen as the best player in the 2011 draft. Recovering from injuries in both of his first two season, limited playing time due to stellar play from Michael Bennett and simple developmental issues have prevented him from being the dominant player he thinks he can be. Bowers told the Tampa Bay Times he's expecting big things.

"I have a lot of potential to be one of the best and the elite at what (I) do, and I haven't shown that at this level yet. (It was) injuries and not understanding what was going on. It takes time to mature at this level. I think my maturation process is going on now and a lot of it has already passed. So I'm just looking for an opportunity now."

Can Bowers be a dominant player, though? I would certainly say so. He's the most athletically gifted defensive lineman on the Buccaneers' roster, even more so than Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy. One play against the Carolina Panthers stood out, when he put left tackle Jordan Gross on the ground and nearly sacked Cam Newton after an outstanding speed-to-power rush. That kind of explosive athleticism was impressive to see, especially so when you consider that Bowers was still recovering from a torn Achilles.

The question now is whether Bowers can build on his athletic gifts in his first full offseason. He can focus on improving his technique and understanding of the game after being forced to focus on rehab during his first two offseasons. That is, if he doesn't injure himself, which is always a possibility in the NFL.

The Buccaneers are relying on Da'Quan Bowers to break out this season, and he'll have to for the Bucs to be successful. He had three sacks in ten games last season, and will have to do better than that. He certainly can, though. He was limited both in ability and playing time last season, both due to injury. He also played in front of the worst secondary in the league, which hurt everyone's ability to finish a sack. Add in poorly executed and designed stunts and blitzes, which should be better this season, and there's every reason for him to improve his numbers and his play.

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