Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles said the team will not rush wide receiver Chris Godwin to play in the team’s regular-season opener.
Godwin returned to practice last week following January surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee. He has been wearing a brace on the knee while doing some straight-line running and positional drills, but has yet to go up against defenders.
The Bucs will open their regular season at the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 11.
“He doesn’t have to be ready (for Week 1), Bowles said Tuesday. “We want him for the long haul. We don’t want him running around, looking good and then getting hurt.
“We’re going through all the protocols and doing all the little things for him, and it’s good to see him in pads, but he’s got some tests to pass and some ways to go.
Tampa Bay opens its three-game preseason slate against the Miami Dolphins on Saturday.
The Bucs feature one of the best receiving tandems in the NFL when Godwin and Mike Evans are healthy. They also signed veteran Julio Jones to compete for snaps with the likes of Russell Gage, Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller, Cyril Grayson Jr. and Breshad Perriman.
Godwin, 26, caught a career-high 98 passes for 1,103 yards and five touchdowns before suffering his season-ending injury in Week 15.
The Buccaneers re-signed him to a three-year deal worth a reported $60 million, with $40 million fully guaranteed, in March.
“We’re not rushing him by (any) means,” Bowles said. “We just want him healthy for the long haul. Once we get down the road and make that determination, we’ll go from there. But there’s not a fast way to have him ready for the season.”
Bowles also said he was impressed with Jones, the long-time Atlanta Falcon who was signed at the end of July after one season with the Tennessee Titans.
“Obviously, not being with the team in the offseason he’s still got to get in a little better shape, but we like what we see in him,” Bowles said. “He’s explosive, very smart, understands the game and he can help us.”
Jones, 33, is a seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver who signed a one-year deal. He played in only 10 games last season due to hamstring injuries after being limited to nine games in 2020.
“We can use him all over the field,” Bowles said. “He’s not just a red zone guy. He can still run. He’s got moves, he can run by people, he can catch, he can block.
“He still has the whole gamut when you talk about his game, and we can use him anywhere we want to use him. That’s the beauty of it.”
–Field Level Media
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