TAMPA — Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin was a full participant in practice Wednesday, wearing an orange non-contact jersey. Last week, he shed a brace that he has worn since tearing two knee ligaments in a game against the Saints in late December.
Godwin has said whether he plays in the opener Sunday at Dallas will be largely up to him, in consultation with the medical staff.
However, coach Todd Bowles made it clear he doesn’t want to push Godwin onto the playing field unless he’s 100 percent.
“(Every game) counts the same, but we want him well,” Bowles said. “I don’t want him out there before it’s time. If he’s healthy and he’s ready to go and they clear him and everybody feels he’s ready to go and completely 100 percent, then you take a shot. Anything less than that, I’d rather him sit.”
Appearing Tuesday on the In the Moment podcast with David Greene, Godwin was asked if he would play in Week 1.
“I don’t think any of us know that yet,” Godwin said. “... I would imagine I have the final say. It’s going to come down to feel. Because I understand what I’m capable of doing on the field when healthy. But I also understand what I’m capable of pushing through.”
Bowles agrees but made it clear that Godwin won’t really know how his knee — which underwent surgery to repair torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments — will respond until he gets tackled around the legs in a game.
“Until he takes a hit below the waist, which you cannot do in practice ... until he gets hit on it from the side or from the front, which we cannot simulate, and then he gets up — I don’t care if it’s five years from now — you’re not going to feel any different,” Bowles said. “His confidence that you run and catch every day, you can be normal. But until you get hit down there, no one is really going to know.”
In the meantime, the Bucs have no shortage of healthy receivers to deploy against the Cowboys, including Mike Evans, Julio Jones and Russell Gage.
“Until (the medical staff says) something, he’s practicing, getting better, and he’s confident every day,” Bowles said. “So, we’ll see where that goes.”
The only players who did not participate Wednesday were cornerback Zyon McCollum (hamstring) and Jones, who had the day off but isn’t injured. Gage (hamstring), running back Giovani Bernard (ankle), safety Logan Ryan (hamstring) and tackle Tristan Wirfs (abdomen) were limited.
Ready for Micah
The Bucs’ offensive line will get a big challenge from Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons, the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year last season. Parsons, who had 13 sacks a year ago, can rush from anywhere.
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The line interior of the line has been rebuilt, with three new starters: center Robert Hainsey, right guard Shaq Mason and left guard Luke Goedeke.
Still, the goal remains the same, tackle Donovan Smith said.
“You protect the quarterback, no matter who it is,” he said. “When you’ve got the GOAT (Tom Brady) back there, you’ve got to do it a little better. We’re going to out there, take our coaching and do what we get paid to do. We’re going to get paid to go there and protect and have fun.”
Watch the ball
Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett is know for his quick first step. But he had six penalties last season. Three of them were neutral-zone infractions, and two were for offsides.
The Bucs need to do a better job this year against the hard-snap counts.
“That’s always a problem for us, watching the ball and not listening to the quarterback,” Barrett said. “But I’ve been working on it a lot in practice and training camp and OTAs, and a lot of the guys have been working on it. We always reinforce it before the play. I would love to think it won’t be a problem, I would be naive to say it won’t be a problem. But I think it will be very few and far between if it is a problem.”
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