TAMPA — Beleaguered defensive lineman Da’Quan Bowers has no illusions about his status with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
One day after coach Lovie Smith suggested Bowers could be cut as a result of a nagging groin injury that has robbed him of a chance to compete for playing time, Bowers agreed his future in Tampa might be in jeopardy.
“There’s only a select few guys here that have their spots,’’ Bowers said. “The rest of us are competing for jobs, so no one is set in stone here and definitely not me.’’
Bowers missed the team’s second preseason game against Miami last week and is likely to miss the third, Saturday at Buffalo. That and a lack of practice time have put Bowers on the roster bubble.
“I think every day you don’t practice, you’re hurting your chances” of making the team,” Smith said Tuesday. “And we’ve seen enough to like Da’Quan a lot. But all the reps that he’s not getting, someone else is getting them.
Bowers is hopeful he has shown his worth during the time he has been on the field for practice and games.
“It comes with the game,’’ Bowers said of the potential fallout from his injury. “But like Coach said, anytime you can’t perform on the practice field, it gives someone else an opportunity. So, when you do get on the practice field you have to make your reps count. And I think I’ve done a pretty decent job of that this camp with the reps that I have gotten in the games and practices.’’
Cornerback prospect Rashaan Melvin’s future in Tampa might also be in danger because of his inability to stay on the field.
“He’s shown us enough to like him a lot,’’ Smith said of Melvin. “He has good size, and when he’s played he’s played as a tough guy. ...He has to figure out a way to stay on the field, and right now he’s losing that battle.”
Tim Wright knew he was facing an uphill battle when he was asked to make the transition from college wide receiver to NFL tight end last year. It really wasn’t until last week, though, that the climb became difficult.
Wright participated in only 25 percent of the offensive plays – less than fourth-string TE Cameron Brate – during the second preseason because, Smith said, Wright struggled as a pass catcher and blocker during the week of workouts.
Spurred by Smith’s comments, Wright believes he turned in a bounce-back week.
“It definitely motivates you,’’ Wright said of the reduced playing time. “You get into camp and now it’s Week 3 and you kind of go into robot mode a bit. But once you hear those comments, it drives you to be better.’’
Among those Bowers is losing playing time to is DE Larry English, a 2009 first-round pick (16th overall) of the San Diego Chargers whom the Bucs pulled off the street a couple weeks ago.
English’s career went off the rails after a foot injury he sustained playing outside linebacker during training camp in 2010. The Bucs hope he can make a comeback now that’s he’s back at his natural position.
“In practice, from the first day he was OK and the next day he was better,’’ Smith said. “So, we’re anxious to let him play. You might see him early in this game. We want to see him against good competition to see exactly what he can do.”