Bowman’s return, if only minimally, offers an upgrade

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Once a ball hawk on defense, Zack Bowman has been relegated to special teams at this point in his career.
Once a ball hawk on defense, Zack Bowman has been relegated to special teams at this point in his career.

The Bears released former first round offensive tackle Chris Williams this week and in his place they signed cornerback Zack Bowman, who was with the team for four seasons.

As trivial as the addition seems, it still remains an upgrade on special teams at the very least. Cornerback Sherrick McManis, whom the team acquired in the preseason in a trade with the Houston Texans for fullback Tyler Clutts, has been battling a hip injury. That should open the door for Bowman to see playing time.

Bowman’s return also signifies the harsh reality of the league whose acronym doubles as “Not For Long.” It doesn’t seem that long ago that Bowman — who came out of college known for his ball skills — recorded six interceptions to lead the Bears defense in 2009.

Bowman’s ability to make plays led the Bears to move him to the left side of the defense and switch veteran Charles Tillman to the right side prior to the 2010 season. The move was designed to give Bowman more opportunities to make plays on the side of the field where most quarterbacks are facing.

It did not pan out as expected.

Bowman began struggling against No. 1 receivers to the point that the Bears had to start shadowing Tillman on those receivers, which they would rather have not done. Bowman was then replaced by Tim Jennings three games into the 2010 season and his career looked downhill from there. Bowman got one more opportunity to start last season when the Bears benched Jennings because he wasn’t recording enough turnovers. But in his lone start of the year, Bowman was torched by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in a Christmas Day matchup. His performance in that game pretty much sealed his fate.

Now that Bowman has been relegated to special teams duty, he can get back to making plays in that phase of the game, a role that he has played quite well throughout his career.

When Bowman suits up, he’ll be wearing a different number (38) than he had in his first stint with the team (35). That should be enough reminder to him when he looks in the mirror that this league really is Not For Long, and should give him that extra motivation to contribute in any way he can.

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