The Buccaneers aren't ruling out defensive end Da'Quan Bowers returning in 2012, as he's reportedly ahead of schedule in his rehab.

Da'Quan Bowers Rehab is Ahead of Schedule

Even though he’s set to start the season on the physically unable to perform list, Buccaneers defensive end Da’quan Bowers is hopeful that he can play in 2012 and according to GM Mark Dominik, he’s ahead of schedule in his rehab.

Bowers tore his achilles tendon earlier this offseason and had surgery to repair it.

“He’s ahead of schedule in terms of his surgery was very successful,” Dominik said. “His rehab has been very successful. The only thing we’re doing now is limiting what he can do to try to keep him from overexerting himself because he feels so good.”

The Buccaneers have had high hopes for Bowers since they drafted him in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Bowers was once considered to be a top prospect but a slew of injuries at Clemson sank his draft value and the Bucs were able to grab him 51st overall. He played sparingly in his rookie season but showed flashes of the player Tampa wants him to be.

He was thought to be a starter this year opposite Adrian Clayborn and help hold down a line that would have featured three players who have only been in the league at a maximum of three years.

Despite widespread rumors that Bowers was done for the season with his injury, Dominik is setting the record straight that nothing is final yet.

“He’ll end up on the PUP list and we’ll have to make a determination sometime in October,” Domink said. “But it’s encouraging to know that that’s at least going to be up for discussion. Instead of worrying about 2013, we’re still talking about 2012.”

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