Stephen Bowen suffered a difficult blow for any athlete, never-mind a defensive lineman that is inching up on 30 years old and counts 7 plus million dollars under his team's salary cap.
Bowen had micro-fracture surgery last December and is on the mend. It's been a tough couple of years grinding through injuries for Bowen, who has had PCL injuries to both knees, arthroscopic surgery on his left, micro-fracture on his right and just for good measure a torn upper bicep muscle late in 2012.
That being said, Bowen is on the way back. "It's coming along," he told ESPN 980 on Wednesday. "It was slow at first, but I'm starting to gain strength."
Bowen has a long way to go, but as most athletes are - he's confident he'll be ready for Richmond and training camp. "Absolutely, I think so." However, he cautioned "the main goal is to be ready for the season."
Even if Bowen is ready for training camp, it's very likely that he would be spotted quite a bit and would possibly even start camp on the pre-season PUP list, which is the only way that he can be transferred to the season PUP list if need be. Of course, with that designation, Bowen would not be able to practice even once.
Then there is the contract situation. It's not a pretty picture to be honest. According to OvertheCap.com (not official), Bowen has a base salary of 4.4 million, with a prorated bonus charge of 2.52 million. Add in 100,000 workout bonus, and you have a cap hit of 7.02 millon.
If the Redskins were to release Bowen (unlikely), they would incur a dead money charge of 5.04 million while saving 1.98 million.
The most likely scenario is to work with Bowen to take a pay-cut, similar to what the team did with several injured veterans last off-season like Brandon Meriweather and Adam Carriker.
Bowen would not directly comment about this potential financial situation, but did add that when he's healthy "I think I do the job that's asked of me. For me I don't see too many 3-4 defensive ends that do it better than me."
Bowen looked me in the eye, a man who does not BS anything and said he's "very confident in my ability. I know Im still good."
Bowen is at Redskins Park daily rehabbing his injury and told ESPN 980 "I see myself coming back healthy, having an amazing year. I'm not done. I want to finish my career here. I just love the organization."
That love for the Redskins helped convince another new Redskins defensive lineman join the team, after proving his ground with the Dallas Cowboys.
Last week, Washington finally landed a big name. Jason Hatcher was a guy that the Redskins had targeted, but didn't set up a visit for immediately. It didn't matter. Hatcher agreed to a four-year, nearly 28 million dollar deal before he even ventured onto Redskins Park property.
"That's my best friend, Bowen said. A sentiment that Hatcher echoed on ESPN 980's "Inside the LockerRoom" last Friday. "It's more like we're brothers."
Bowen's prescence in Washington certainly helped, but more importantly - it's what a player who has done the same exact thing Hatcher has now done, feels about the past direction and current state of the Redskins franchise. That means something, when you trust the opinion of your friend.
"I think it was big," Bowen said. "We always talked about how it was to be on a different teams. Here (Washington) it's top notch." Bowen explained that public perception of the Redskins is different than the reality of the situation. "It's about how they run their business. They always welcome you with open arms. He loved it," Bowen said of Hatcher.
Everybody knows what Hatcher brings from a pass rushing standpoint. That's why the Redskins made the move, but Bowen says his new and old running mate has an "amazing motor." The tape shows that when you watch. Just check out some of the hustle plays that Hatcher made against the Redskins in the Week 5 Sunday Night Football game in Dallas.
"He's a very smart defensive lineman. He's very good with his hands, Bowen said. " He's very heavy handed."
The Redskins are finally deep along the defensive line and at least one familiar face might not be here. Washington signed Hatcher to presumably go along with Barry Cofield and Chris Baker on the starting defensive line. Obviously, certain factors can change that.
There's no guarantee that Cofield will even be the starting nose. He could be flipped with Baker, who is a natural pass-rushing nose tackle. Washington also signed Clifton Geathers, a 340 pound space plugging veteran. Kedric Golston and former 2nd round pick Jarvis Jenkins are also under contract.
When you throw in Bowen and Chris Neild, that's eight guys fitting into a likely maximum of seven spots. I believe the Redskins will carry seven this year, especially if they intend to be more versatile as opposed to the primary three down linemen fronts in their base package or "okie."
Regardless of who ultimately makes up the Redskins defensive line, there's no doubt that Jim Haslett will be much more aggressive in his attack plan.
Part of that plan was signing Hatcher. Part of that was re-signing Chris Baker. Baker told me on Wednesday of his new teammate Hatcher, "He's not going to be asked to stay in the B gap and play a tradional 3-4."
Hatcher's prescence along with Baker and Cofield should give the Redskins plenty of gas for a sustained pass rush, and leave plenty of options when Washington goes to their nickel package.
Bowen feels that the Redskins, a defensive line that only generated 5.5 sacks in 2013, can be the "most dominant D-line in the NFL."
Baker, never short on confidence says "I'll second that. We have a good group of veterans who are ready to take that next step from being good to great." Baker says it's a "group of guys entering their prime."
***Join Stephen Bowen and his Redskins teammates for a great night of bowling and fun for a great cause on Friday May 2, 2014 at Lucky Strike near Verizon Center. The event benefits "Skyler's Gift" , a charitable organization started by Bowen and his wife, after the death of his infant son.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
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