Bowers returns to practice with Buccaneers

Bowers returns to practice with Buccaneers

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Help could be on the way for Tampa Bay's erratic pass rush.

Defensive end Da'Quan Bowers practiced for the first time this season on Wednesday, opening a three-week window in which the Buccaneers will be able to evaluate the second-year pro and determine if he'll be able to return from a torn right Achilles tendon that's sidelined him since May.

If Bowers isn't activated by Nov. 7 to the 53-man roster, he has to be placed on injured reserve and sit out the remainder of the season.

``It felt good to be back on the field, it felt good to sweat,'' Bowers said. ``It's been a tough road, but I'm glad to be where I am now.''

The former Clemson star led the nation in sacks two years ago, and the Bucs selected him and Adrian Clayborn in the first two rounds of the 2011 NFL draft in hopes of bolstering one of the league's weakest pass rushes.

With Bowers on the physically unable to perform list and Clayborn sidelined for the season with a knee injury, the Bucs have eight sacks through five games.

The 6-foot-4, 288-pound end isn't making any predictions about when he could be ready to play in games, and coach Greg Schiano reiterated that Bucs will not rush Bowers back into the lineup.

Seven of the team's eight sacks have come in two games. The Bucs didn't have any on Brady Quinn during last week's 38-10 rout of the Kansas City Chiefs.

``We've got to make sure we go deliberately with this. Do it, see how he feels and then do it some more,'' Schiano said. ``It was a minimal workload (Wednesday). We're going to ease our way into this.''

Bowers had 15 1/2 sacks in his final season at Clemson and was projected be an early first-round pick before undergoing knee surgery a few months before the draft.

The Bucs jumped at the opportunity to take him in the second round, No. 51 overall, excited about the prospect of pairing him with first-round selection Clayborn, who wound up leading the team with 6 1/2 sacks as a rookie.

Bowers appeared in all 16 games as a rookie, starting the final six at left end and finishing with 1 1/2 sacks.

``I'm just kind of getting back in the swing of things. It's a day-by-day situation,'' said Bowers, who would not speculate on when he might be ready to play in a game.

Although Schiano didn't rule out Bowers playing Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, the first-year coach suggested a return is not imminent.

``There's a chance, but that's not what we'd want to do,'' Schiano said.

With Michael Bennett playing well and leading the team with four sacks, there's little chance that Bowers would return in the spot he played as a rookie. Daniel Te'o-Neshiem took over at right end after Clayborn was lost for the season against Dallas, so there's possibility Bowers could push him for that job.

Schiano said it was premature to discuss a potential role.

``Right now I just want to see if he can come back,'' Schiano said. ``After that we'll figure out how to employ him in the scheme.''

That's fine with Bowers, who played both left and right end in college, as well as a rookie.

``Whatever coach decides,'' he said, adding while he's anxious to get back on the field, he's also comfortable with the team's cautious approach to bringing him back.

``Right now, I don't want to put myself out there'' without being ready, Bowers said. ``With those guys playing as well as they are, I don't want to do that.''

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Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman nearing minor league rehab assignment


Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman nearing minor league rehab assignment

Over the last few weeks, the Nationals have finally started to get healthy. Slowly but surely, they’ve added stars like Juan Soto, Trea Turner, and Anthony Rendon back to their everyday lineup, and the wins have followed.

If everything goes according to plan, they could be close to adding yet another potential impact bat. This time, it’s Ryan Zimmerman.

The first baseman, who has been on the Injured List since April 28 while dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, could begin his rehab assignment as soon as this weekend, according to his manager.

Zimmerman is getting closer to full health but is still experiencing discomfort while running. During batting practice Thursday, Zimmerman resumed baseball activities, and the plan is for him to run the bases before his minor-league assignment.

"If you're going to be out there playing, you've got to be able at least score on a normal base hit if you're on second, go first to third,” Zimmerman said Thursday. “You might not have to be 100 percent on all that, but you have to do normal, everyday activities, or you're not really helping the team.”

The priority in the minors will be playing nine full innings.

"I think the biggest thing with the rehab games is just getting on your feet for nine innings so the first time you're out there for nine innings isn't here, and you can play some games and make sure it doesn't act up,” the longtime National told reporters. “Because once you're activated and once you're between those white lines, it's game on. It's more I think for Davey [Martinez]. You don't want to put him in a bad spot. If he is managing without knowing if I have restrictions or without knowing what's going to happen, that puts him in a bad spot. That's not what you want to do."

Davey Martinez has rarely had his full complement of players in 2019. Zimmerman himself has already missed 47 games.

Of course, once he returns, the Nationals will have more decisions to make. Not only do the Nationals need to find a roster spot for Zimmerman (Gerardo Parra is a candidate to be the odd man out, despite some flashes in his time in Washington), but they also need to figure out the playing time.

Matt Adams has hit with a lot of power this season, and without the DH in the National League, is limited to first base, same as Zimmerman. Howie Kendrick has been the Nationals’ second-best hitter in 2019 and is one of the best surprises in baseball, but is also limited defensively. Kendrick has more versatility, but with Brian Dozier’s recent surge (and superior defense), the Nats will likely want to keep him there. And, of course, Rendon and Turner are entrenched on the left side of the infield.

It’s something Martinez will have to figure out, he’s already begun speaking with players about what the arrangement will look like.

For right now, it’s a problem for another day, but if Zimmerman’s rehab goes well that won’t be the case much longer.


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2019 NBA Draft: Lakers take De'Andre Hunter with No. 4, will reportedly trade him to Hawks

2019 NBA Draft: Lakers take De'Andre Hunter with No. 4, will reportedly trade him to Hawks

De'Andre Hunter is a Los Angeles Laker...for now.

The Virginia star and reigning ACC Defensive of the Year was selected by the Lakers with the No. 4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft Thursday night. However, the Lakers will send that pick to the Pelicans in the agreed-to trade for Anthony Davis, New Orleans in turn reportedly trading it to the Hawks. Thus, Hunter likely ends up in Atlanta. 

If the trade goes through, Hunter will join a talented young Hawks core which already includes Trae Young and John Collins. He would bring a championship pedigree to the team, having just won an NCAA title with UVA this past season.

"Coming off a national championship, there's no better way to try to go into the NBA," Hunter told NBC Sports Washington during an interview for the I Am The Prospect series