TAMPA — Last year at this time, Chris Godwin felt like a little kid being punished. As he rehabbed from an ACL tear, the Bucs wide receiver watched through the windows at AdventHealth Training Center as his teammates worked outside on the field.
“Those were very long days, and you kind of watch out the window,” Godwin said. “It’s like you’re a kid that got in trouble and you’re watching all your friends outside, playing and having fun.
“To be out here now, it’s a blessing. It was a lot of hard work. ... I took some much-needed rest right after the season. But I’m feeling really good. I feel really good with where I’m at. It’s a fresh year (with) fresh opportunities for myself and all the guys around.”
Godwin’s excitement over being able to take part in this year’s organized team activities has been noticed by his teammates.
“I think that’s huge, not only for him (but also) the locker room because he has been such a great leader for us,” quarterback Kyle Trask said. “What he has done here winning (a) Super Bowl and for him to still be here during OTAs shows a lot about his leadership. We really respect that.
“It’s also really huge for the young guys to see someone of his caliber still coming to work in the middle of the offseason trying to get better. It’s really an important thing for the young guys to see — you can have all of the success that Chris has had and still try to get better.”
Godwin isn’t just trying to be a role model for the rookies. He said he feels it is important to attend the voluntary workouts because of the change in the offense’s leadership. Putting in the extra time this spring will allow him to enter training camp up to speed with his role and responsibilities in the new offense.
After Byron Leftwich was fired in January, the Bucs brought in a new offensive coordinator with a new philosophy. Dave Canales is looking to move the ball on the ground more, and it will change the role of the receivers.
Ideally, the difference in schemes would mean that Godwin won’t have to take the regular punishment of playing inside and blocking as much as he did in the past. He will work more on the outside of the field, where some think he will be able to stay healthier.
Head coach Todd Bowles isn’t sure how much of a break it will be if Godwin plays the way he is capable.
“I don’t know if it preserves him,” Bowles said. “Everybody knows he’s a great player, so when they see ‘14′ out there, there’s going to be attention directed towards him — whether he’s in the boundary to the field, in the slot, or outside because he’s that good of a football player.
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“He takes care of his body. Obviously, he came back from the injury in great shape. I think they’re going to continue to key him, but obviously the good players get paid attention to. He continues to make plays, so we’re looking for him to continue to make plays.”
So far, Godwin has been impressed with the offense, especially working with Canales.
“I like him, I really do,” Godwin said. “I think the first thing that really comes to mind is he’s a very smart guy. You can tell that he, one, really loves ball, but he really knows what he wants to do in terms of installing the offense and attacking defenses. … He’s a teacher, and he wants to effectively communicate that. It’s been working so far.”
And so far Godwin, a Pro Bowler in 2019, has been feeling more like he did before his injury.
“I think I’m very close to it,” he said. “I feel like a lot of my explosion is coming back. I feel very comfortable with the things that I’m working on. It feels really good to be able to have the opportunity to work on my skill development this offseason, as opposed to just working to rehab an injury.”
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