TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need a better pass rush, and according to coach Greg Schiano, that means they need a better Da'Quan Bowers.
Schiano has been on his third-year defensive end — during practices and after — all summer long.
"It's certainly not anything personal. We both want the same thing," Schiano said Saturday. "He wants to be an every-down player and we need an every-down defensive end so we're just trying to get there."
Bowers was the only Bucs regular to play the entire first half Thursday night in a 44-16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the preseason opener. His performance drew mixed reviews from Schiano.
"I felt like I needed it," Bowers said. "I'm an unproven defensive end in this league. I felt like I needed the extra work. I talked to coach about it. He agreed, I agreed so we came up with a plan."
Even after investing premium picks on three defensive linemen, including Bowers, in the 2010 and 2011 drafts, the Bucs have ranked among the bottom teams in the NFL in sacks every year. Last year, they had the worst pass defense in the league (379.9 yards per game) while recording only 27 sacks.
"That was one of our issues," Schiano said. "We haven't had that yet, with a four-man front or a three-man front getting to the quarterback consistently. Until we do it, there needs to be concern."
The 6-foot-4, 288-pound Bowers, a second-round pick in 2011, has 4½ sacks in 26 games. Staying on the field as a full-time player might be the solution to that lack of production.
"I think it's a lot harder than the average person thinks," said Bowers, whose career has been slowed by Achilles and knee surgeries. "I think coach Schiano said it best: when you're a starting pitcher you have a lot more pitches than a closer, so you know you just have to get ready to go. You have to bring your A Game and be prepared.
"I'm a firm believer that there's no missed opportunities in this league. If I don't take advantage of it, then somebody on the street will."
Schiano intends to make sure Bowers taps his potential.
"Da'Quan has what we refer to as heavy hands," Schiano said. "He's strong so when he puts his hands on you, you feel it. When he plays with good pad level and does that, he's a force, but when he doesn't, he's not a force. I think it's just practicing being a consistent player."
"Coach is a straightforward guy and I respect him," said Bowers. "He said he wanted more out of me so it's my job to come out here and give him more, give him all that I have until I don't have any more."
NOTES: Former Bucs receiver Keyshawn Johnson was in camp to do an ESPN interview with cornerback Darrelle Revis. In the season opener Sept. 8, Revis will be in a situation similar to the one Johnson was in 2000, when he faced his former team, the New York Jets, in a September game. "It was the same story — two picks, blah-blah-blah, bunch of money, the hype, so we'll put it in the can and use it for Week 1," Johnson said. "That way I won't have to come down here and fight the media that week to get an interview from him." . . . Guard Carl Nicks, who missed most of last season with a toe injury, has been working with the first team in practice, but no decision was announced on whether he will play at New England . . . The Bucs will practice against the Patriots on Tuesday and Wednesday in New England before playing Friday night . . . The Bucs signed safety Troy Nolan.