Bucs’ Arians thinks Godwin will return vs. Packers

NFL

TAMPA, Fla. — Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians on Friday said he thinks Pro Bowl wide receiver Chris Godwin will play against the Green Bay Packers after missing two games with a hamstring injury.

“I think Godwin’s gonna go,” Arians said. “Chris practiced the majority of the week and it’s the best he’s looked in a while. He’s still sore, but he was able to get in front of the quarterback and show that he’s got what he needs to have for this ballgame. It was good to see him out there because people don’t realize how big of a part of our offense he is.”

Godwin, who hadn’t practiced since suffering the injury in Week 3, leads the Bucs with an 84.6% receiving percentage and has a 27.3% receiving percentage of plays of 20-plus yards. He is primarily used in the slot, with his greatest impact coming on the outside.

His 1,333 receiving yards, in only 14 games, were third in the NFL last season.

In addition to Godwin, Arians said WR Scotty Miller (hip/groin), WR Mike Evans (ankle), CB Carlton Davis (abdominal), safety Jordan Whitehead (knee), RB Leonard Fournette (ankle) and DL Khalil Davis (ankle) will be game-time decisions.

Godwin and fellow Pro Bowl receiver Evans have been on the field together for only two of the team’s five games this season because of injuries. Godwin missed Week 2 after suffering a concussion in the Bucs’ opener.

“He’s a premier outside receiver and a premier slot. There are very, very few of those guys that can play all over the field and very few block like he blocks,” Arians said of Godwin. “[He] sets up the play-action and sets up the tempo because he’s a great run-after-catch guy. He can go deep.

“He’s a very unique animal. He’s big in the screen game, he’s big in underneath stuff that he takes to the house. Very few guys are like him in this league.”

Wide receivers Justin Watson and Tyler Johnson, who led the team with four catches for 61 yards last week after not catching a pass from Tom Brady before that, also have missed games this season.

“I think the hard part is Tom not seeing those guys in practice, you know, until late in the week,” Arians said. “… Sometimes that can be really, really hard on [quarterbacks], especially one that hasn’t been with these guys that long. It poses a lot of problems, but we’re working through it. Tom’s working through it. He’s done a great job with some of those young guys too.”

On the other side of the ball, as the Bucs cope with the loss of top defensive tackle Vita Vea, their secondary may be short-handed against the Packers on Sunday. Whitehead was limited Wednesday and did not practice Thursday, while Davis missed Wednesday and was limited Thursday.

Davis is tied for the league lead with three interceptions, while Whitehead has played more snaps in coverage than any other other safety on the team.

“It’s very, very critical,” Arians said of Davis. “He’s our top corner and he normally shadows the best receiver from the other team. We’ve got our fingers crossed. He got some work in [Friday], moved around pretty good, twisted a little bit and was not pain-free but was tolerable. We’ve still got 48 hours.”

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