Buccaneers rookie DE Bowers set for first NFL start

If the waiting is in fact the hardest part, then Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie defensive end Da'Quan Bowers' patience has finally paid off.

The 51st overall pick in last April's draft, Bowers is set to start his first NFL game on Sunday when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to Tennessee, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

A groin injury to Tampa Bay starting left defensive end Michael Bennett has opened the door for Bowers, who has 10 tackles in limited playing time this season, part of the Buccaneers' plan to slowly bring the rookie along following January knee surgery.

It was that surgery that ultimately led Bowers -- once considered a top-10 prospect out of Clemson -- to fall to the second round. Bowers said the wait has proved beneficial.

"From when I came in to now, I think there's been a massive improvement," Bowers said. "Coming off my injury and not being able to run or do anything football related for seven months, it was tough for my first month or two here. But I'm actually back in the heavy rotation now. I'm actually going to be getting a lot more reps. It's been a tough road, but I'm actually able to finally do what I came here to do now because I'm fully healthy."

Bucs coach Raheem Morris said Bowers has shown flashes of his ability through 10 games, but believes the 21-year-old is finally ready to be let loose.

"We've been using him primarily against the run," Morris said. "But his power shows up big time when it comes to the pass rush. He's got great power when people are running at him. But where he really uses it is when he uses his speed and power on some of these (offensive) tackles in the pass rush. You definitely can see the big difference in power and speed and bulk."

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