HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. - David Bowens developed a reputation for bowling people over before coming to the New York Jets.
All the sacks and tackles on the football field were one thing, but it was his 221 career average on the lanes that impressed his new teammates. When the son of former professional bowler Frank Williams showed up for a team charity event at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan in June, he felt, well, framed.
``They knew all about it, so they gave me a handicap,'' Bowens said Tuesday with a big grin. ``They let me go on the lanes using their balls.''
Bowens rolled a 179, which wasn't bad, but his performance was overshadowed by Curtis Martin's 211.
``I couldn't use my own bowling balls, so that put me at a disadvantage,'' said Bowens, who set his career high of 279 three years ago. ``So, I had my girl send my balls up here, so I have four balls up in my apartment, so we're good now.''
Bowens, entering his ninth NFL season after signing with the Jets in March, started bowling in his early teens after watching his father's success in the early 1980s.
``My dad was in the PBA and he would always leave and go to Wichita, Kan., or Corpus Christi, Texas, and it intrigued me,'' Bowens said. ``I would look at his pictures and his tapes of him bowling. My junior high school had a bowling league, so I just started doing it. My dad taught me how to throw a curve and it's just kind of been a fun thing for me.''
After playing the last six years with the rival Miami Dolphins, Bowens is hoping to throw a few strikes on defense for the Jets.
The 30-year-old Bowens was a pass-rushing specialist for the Dolphins, compiling 18 of his 26 career sacks during the past three seasons. The Jets could use some help in that department after tying for 15th in the league with 35 last season.
``My role is whatever,'' Bowens said. ``If they need me to hold the kick on a field goal, I'll do that.''
The Jets are working Bowens at both defensive end and outside linebacker in training camp, a role he's assumed throughout his career. Bowens has worked mainly with the second team during drills.
``He's kind of getting his camp legs back and showed some good quickness (Monday) in a couple of drills that I was watching,'' coach Eric Mangini said. ``That's good to see.''
Bowens, who has 164 career tackles, signed with the Jets largely because two of his former coaches were with the team. Defensive line coach Dan Quinn had the same role with Miami the past two seasons, and linebackers coach Jim Herrmann was a defensive assistant when Bowens played his first two years of college at Michigan.
``They both liked what David brought from a personal level and from a skill-set level,'' Mangini said. ``He's working at that outside linebacker/defensive end hybrid group, so he gives us some flexibility there.''
If not for his skills on the football field, Bowens might be trying to take after his father at the bowling alley.
``It's one sport that you have control over, like golf and boxing,'' he said. ``Football is a team sport, but I like to be in control of what's going on, so when I'm out there bowling, I feel like I can correct all the mistakes and I can make something good or something bad happen.''
The Jets are hoping for Bowens to make something good happen on the field.
``Everybody knows about my strengths and weaknesses, so they'll probably try to figure it out like that, but I can't predict what's going to happen,'' Bowens said. ``I'll just do whatever they want me to do.''
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