Bucs’ Godwin out for season with torn ACL in right knee

Sports

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) can’t hang onto a pass after getting hit by New Orleans Saints cornerback P.J. Williams (26) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tampa Bay receiver Chris Godwin has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and will be out for the remainder of the season.

Godwin was injured early in the second quarter of a 9-0 loss to New Orleans on Sunday night after catching a pass from Tom Brady over the middle and taking a hard hit directly on the knee from Saints cornerback P.J. Williams.

The tackle flipped the receiver into the air and Godwin remained on the ground momentarily before being helped to his feet and walking off the field under his own power. He was later seen running on the Buccaneers sideline, but did not re-enter the game.

Coach Bruce Arians said Monday that the hit was legal, but is the type of play that needs to be examined as part of ongoing efforts to make the game safer.

“You feel bad for him because he was having such a great year, and the type of hit it was — totally legal, but I think that’s one of the things we have to look at in the offseason,” Arians said.

“We’re so concerned about hitting people in the head and we’re getting a lot of knee injuries now because of that type of tackle,” the coach added. “But it is legal and wasn’t a bad play at all.”

Godwin was well on his way to a third consecutive game with at least 10 receptions and 100 yards receiving with six for 49 when he was hurt with just under 13 minutes remaining in the first half. The fifth-year pro finished with a career-best 98 catches for 1,103 yards and six touchdowns (five receiving, one rushing).

Receiver is one of the deepest positions on Tampa Bay’s roster, however the loss of Godwin coupled with Mike Evans (64 receptions, 899 yards, 11 TDs) suffering a hamstring injury on Sunday will be tough to overcome.

The reigning Super Bowl champions could get a lift from receiver Antonio Brown, who returns this week after serving a three-game suspension imposed by the NFL for misrepresenting his vaccination status. He hasn’t played since suffering an ankle injury during a Week 6 win at Philadelphia.

Running back Leonard Fournette also left Sunday night’s game with a hamstring injury. Arians is hopeful both Fournette and Evans will be back at some point, but noted it’s too soon to speculate when.

Like Brown, safety Mike Edwards is also eligible to return this week after serving a three-game suspension for misrepresenting his vaccination status.

“It’s in the best interest of our football team,” Arians said. “Both of those guys have served their time and we’ll welcome them back.”

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