Tampa Bay Buccaneers veteran wide receiver Chris Godwin is making steady progress and is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a torn ACL suffered late last season.
While Godwin keeps making strides — literally — and practiced Wednesday without a brace on his knee, there’s still an increasing chance the team exercises caution and holds him out of Sunday night’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.
One league source predicted that Godwin is going to play, but there are some steps to clear before that final decision is made.
Will the Buccaneers play WR Chris Godwin in Week 1?
Godwin is trending toward being fully cleared and regarded as healthy enough to play, per league sources. However, he’s not subject to contact in practice yet. Sources emphasized that this decision will likely be a true game-time decision.
“He looks great out there, but it’s a judgment call,” a source said. “It’s just about making the best long-term decision for him and the team. He could go this week, and it wouldn’t be a problem. If they decided to wait until the second game, that would be fine, too. It’s not like they don’t have a lot of wide receivers for Tom Brady to throw to.”
Godwin was able to run routes, jump, and looked good doing so Wednesday. Ultimately, this will be a collaborative decision. And Godwin will have significant input into whether he plays in Week 1.
“If he feels healthy, and he’s ready to go, and they clear him, you take your shot,” Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles said during a press conference. “Anything less than that, I’d rather he sits. I don’t want him to be out there before it’s time.”
Godwin, who also sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee last season, appeared on a podcast with David Greene this week and was noncommittal on whether he’ll play.
“That’s a great question,” Godwin said. “I don’t think any of us know that yet. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think it matters that much. I would love to be there for the entire season, but I think what’s more important is being there for the second half of the season. Being there for what I missed last year.”
Godwin, named the Buccaneers’ franchise player, signed a $60 million, three-year extension with $40 million guaranteed. They have a significant investment in him.
Godwin caught 98 passes for 1,103 yards and five touchdowns last season, playing under a $15.983 million franchise tender. With his potential unrestricted free agent status in 2023, he has a lot on the line.
The first game, if he plays, isn’t as important as the bigger picture objectives for Godwin and the Buccaneers: getting nearly a full season out of him and remaining healthy for his career going forward.