TAMPA — For the first time since tearing ligaments in his right knee during a game against the Saints in December, Chris Godwin on Friday returned to practice with the Bucs.
Godwin arrived wearing a full uniform and a brace on his right knee. He did some straight-away running, caught footballs and even did some cutting on routes during individual work but didn’t participate in the team periods.
“Good seeing him out there running around, getting some individual work in,” Bucs coach Todd Bowles said afterward. “It’s always a plus when he’s in uniform.”
Godwin’s progress and recovery have been good enough to keep the Bucs from putting him on the physically unable to perform list to start training camp so he wouldn’t be restricted to just working with the training staff.
After practice, Bowles said he had no timetable for when Godwin might return to full team action.
“We’re not going to rush him, we’re just glad to see him out there working right now,” he said. “As it goes on, we’ll see.”
Godwin underwent surgery on Jan. 3 to repair torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments sustained when he was hit by Saints safety P.J. Williams on Dec. 19.
He ended the season with 98 catches, only eight shy of the franchise single-season record held by Keyshawn Johnson.
Three months after the injury, the Bucs placed the franchise tag on him for the second consecutive season, then signed him to a three-year, $60 million deal shortly thereafter.
While it’s unlikely Godwin will play in preseason games, Friday’s development is a good sign for the Bucs, who are hopeful Godwin may be ready to play in the Sept. 11 regular-season opener at Dallas.
“Our lockers are close to each other, and I saw him putting on his shoulder pads (Friday),” receiver Cyril Grayson Jr. said. “I’m like, ‘It’s time?’ It was exciting just seeing him, knowing how hard he’s been working to get back and being able to start getting back with the team, and it’s looking up.
“I’m glad he’s going to be ready — I hope — for Week 1.”
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