The Tampa Bay Buccaneers appear to be facing an uphill battle for the NFC’s No. 1 seed.
UPDATE 2:50 PM EST: According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Chris Godwin is done for the year due to a torn ACL. This contradicts an earlier report on Monday, December 20, from Ian Rapoport of NFL Network that Godwin had suffered a sprained MCL and was merely done for the regular season.
Godwin suffered an injury on a vicious hit from Saints cornerback P.J. Williams in Week 15. The hit came in low on Godwin, which forced his knee to bend in an awkward angle. It also didn’t help matters that Godwin landed on his neck with impact.
Before he was ruled out for the game, Godwin was seen on the sidelines attempting to sprint, cut and change directions.
The 25-year-old receiver had emerged as Tom Brady’s favorite target this season. As a staple in Bruce Arians’ screen game, Godwin had caught 92 passes (second in the NFL) for 1,054 yards and five touchdowns.
Bucs Dealing With Other Injuries
The Buccaneers are also dealing with Mike Evans’ injury. Tampa Bay’s other starting receiver exited during the first half due to a hamstring injury. Slot receiver Breshad Perriman was also inactive for the game due to COVID-19 protocols, leaving the Bucs with a depleted receiving corps featuring Scotty Miller, Jaelon Darden and Tyler Johnson.
That’s not even mentioning the fact that starting running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) also exited the game due to his own hamstring injury.
It would appear Antonio Brown’s return from a three-game suspension can’t come soon enough.
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Arians on AB’s Return: ‘Best Interest’ of Our Football Team
Arians has come to an official decision — Brown will remain on the roster.
Following the Bucs’ loss to the Saints on Sunday, December 19, Arians says keeping Brown on the roster is in the best interest of the game. The veteran receiver is eligible to return in Week 16 versus the Carolina Panthers following a three-game suspension due to misrepresenting his vaccination status.
“Yeah, it’s in the best interest of our football team,” Arians said. “Both of those guys (Brown and safety Mike Edwards) have served their time and we’ll welcome them back.”
The Bucs head coach had previously remained mum regarding Brown’s future, saying that it would be decided when his suspension was over.
Considering Godwin and Evans’ injuries versus the Saints, Brown’s value to the team definitely increased. The fact that Brady failed to move the football without two of his top playmakers — he threw for a season-low 214 passing yards and just 4.5 yards per pass attempt versus the Saints — definitely makes bringing back Brown a priority.
“A lot of the guys got banged up tonight, but that’s part of football,” Brady said after being shut out for the first time since 2006. “So we have to try to figure out who can go in and fill in some roles and play great football, and we’re going to have to put together a great week this week.”