Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Da'Quan Bowers has admitted former head coach Greg Schiano got to him mentally.
Bowers made the revelation to The Lakeland Ledger's Rick Brown on Aug. 3:
"Tampa Bay defensive lineman Da'Quan Bowers knows it's time for him to perform like he's capable of performing. It's not about proving wrong those who call him a bust. It's not the fact of performing well in the final year of his rookie contract. For Bowers, it is personal.
"'I'm at a point in my career where it's time to make plays,' said the 6-foot-4, 288-pound former second-round pick from Clemson in 2011. 'It's time to shine. I've been mediocre my whole life here. It's time for me to take that spotlight and just play to the best of my ability and stop selling myself short and this organization short.'
"Some of it has not been Bowers' fault, as the defensive lineman has dealt with injuries in two of his first three seasons with the team.
"First, it was a knee injury before he was drafted. Later, it was an Achilles.
"Last year, it was knee again, which also slowed his offseason.
"Bowers said he also let former head coach Greg Schiano's criticism get to him.
"'It's not all about the injuries,' he said. 'I let other reasons get to me mentally. It was Schiano. He got to me mentally, and I couldn't bounce back for some reason. I blame myself though. I couldn't push through it mentally. It taught me something and I'm a better person and a better player because of that.'
"Bowers, who has been working at defensive end as well as defensive tackle, has been having a strong camp under new coach Lovie Smith. Players and coaches alike have praised Bowers so far.
"'When he came into camp, he told everybody, 'I'm really going to step up and play to my ability,' fellow defensive lineman William Gholston said. 'He apologized for whatever he did in the past or for not playing well. He was really being accountable and you can see him now playing hard. I know I'm watching him out there. I'm watching him play the way the knows how to play. He's playing like a beast.'
"It's been in him.
"While at Clemson, he was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2010, one of only four unanimous All-American first-team selections in Clemson history and the first Tiger to garner the Nagurski and Hendricks trophies.
"The Bucs will likely carry seven defensive linemen and Bowers' ability to play both inside and out can help him, if he continues to perform well.
"'You would like that seventh (lineman) to be able to do both,' Smith said. 'That's what you have in a player like Da'Quan. He's right in between being big enough to possibly rush inside on third down and a good anchor outside on first down playing the end position. He gives us some flexibility. He's been injured a lot I know that, but he hasn't missed a beat since I've been here.'"
ESPN's Pat Yaskinskas notes in his July 29 blog that the Buccaneers training camp will be much calmer under Smith than it was under Schiano:
"The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have their first day off from training camp Tuesday. That makes it a good time to reflect on the first four days.
"A couple of things jumped out. Namely the peacefulness and calmness that new coach Lovie Smith has brought.
"Previous coach Greg Schiano was a yeller and a screamer (remember 'toes on the line?'). Schiano and his staff were very loud on the practice field. Smith and his staff are much quieter. They're teaching, but they're doing it in a business-like manner.
"You got the feeling a lot of players tuned out Schiano. But it appears they're buying into Smith. He's a coach who has proven he can win in the NFL and it's obvious he already has earned his team's resepect.
"That's all good, but there's another big difference from last season to this one. That's the relationship between the head coach and the quarterback. A year ago at this time, the feud between Schiano and quarterback Josh Freeman was festering behind the scenes.
"Freeman was late for meetings, missed the team photo and was not elected as a captain. Things boiled over and the feud became public early on in the season. Freeman was benched after three games and subsequently released.
"Schiano's final year had all the elements of a soap opera. The first four days of the Smith era have had none of that, and I don't anticipate that changing.
"Smith has his hand-picked quarterback in Josh McCown. They have history together from their days in Chicago. McCown's not the type of guy that's going to be late for anything.
"You can already see the harmony forming on Smith's team. That puts the Bucs well ahead of where they were with Schiano."