Defensive end Stephen Bowen played the final two regular season games last season - and the Redskins’ playoff contest - with a torn left biceps.
Although the injury was painful and limited his effectiveness, he avoided offseason surgery and confirmed earlier this week that the tear has “totally healed.”
“It’s still a little sore sometimes,” Bowen added. “But I’m fine.”
Bowen’s steady play helped key the defense's second half turnaround in 2012. The 29-year-old finished with 25 tackles and his three passes defended were a career best. ProFootballFocus.com also credited him with 20 quarterback hurries, which ranked 11th among 3-4 defensive ends.
But there was one statistical category Bowen wasn’t particularly excited about: sacks.
After notching six sacks in 2011, Bowen recorded only one sack in the regular season last season, marking his lowest total since recording none in 2007 and ’08 as a member of the Cowboys. The single sack actually was a combination of a half sack against the Vikings and another vs. Dallas. (He also recorded a half sack in the playoff loss to the Seahawks).
Although a 3-4 end doesn’t typically get an abundance of sack opportunities, Bowen said capitalizing on those rare chances will be among his priorities this season.
“Absolutely,” he said. “It’s about getting better pressure. The year before I had six sacks.”
The entire defense was thrown off kilter after defensive end Adam Carriker and pass-rushing linebacker Brian Orakpo were lost to injury in Week 2 last season. And the defensive line was no exception, Bowen said.
Overall, the starters along the line saw their sack total decrease from 14.5 in 2011 to 3.5 last season.
Getting Orakpo back will help, Bowen said. So will a more experienced Jarvis Jenkins.
“I’m not making any excuses, but having Rak back, when he’s there, the offensive line has to pick their poison,” Bowen said. “Who do you block?”
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett added: “We’ll try to put these guys in better position a little bit to get sacks. If we get some obvious passing situations, we’ll get a little freedom to go get the quarterback.”
Bowen said he also hopes that chemistry the front-7 formed during the team’s seven game winning streak late last season will carry over in September.
“With Rak, Ryan [Kerrigan], Barry [Cofield], Jarvis and me, we’re starting to get our continuity back now,” he said, referring to the team’s just-completed offseason program. “We’re getting into the flow of things. It’s been going pretty good.”