The Bucs face Dallas and New Orleans on the road followed by Green Bay and Kansas City at home. It had Godwin excited when he spoke at a fundraising breakfast on Friday, May 13.
“First month of the season, there’s going to be some fireworks,” Godwin said about the schedule according to Greg Auman of The Athletic.
Godwin, who joined current and former Bucs for the event, added that “he can’t wait to get back healthy again” but didn’t offer a timetable for returning, Auman wrote. Former Bucs player turned ABC/ESPN analyst Anthony “Booger” McFarland said during an April 20 WDAE show, via JoeBucsFan.com, that he believes Godwin won’t be back on the field before December.
If that’s true, the Bucs will forge their way through the first gauntlet of Super Bowl contenders in Weeks 1-4 followed by another slew of tough games. The Bucs own the fourth-most difficult schedule in the NFL based on opponents’ 2021 winning percentage per The Athletic.
After Week 4, the Bucs face playoff-caliber teams in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams. The Bucs get a bye week after the Week 10 game against Seattle in Germany, but Thanksgiving weekend will bring a tough game in Cleveland.
Tampa Bay could face five of the eight 2021 playoff teams on its schedule and each division rival once before Godwin ever sees the field.
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Brady Going to OTAs
Whether or not it’s related to missing Godwin in the passing game, Bucs quarterback Tom Brady participated in organized team activities this week per Buccaneers.com. Brady hadn’t been involved in OTAs during the offseason since 2018 to spend more time with family according to CBS Sports.
Brady also showed off his focus via social media on Monday, May 9, with the message “back to work” and pictures of himself with a Bucs helmet. That came just after his trip to sports star-laden Miami Grand Prix on Sunday, May 8, and just before Tuesday’s announcement of his next gig with Fox.
“I don’t need to see him,” Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich told the media on Tuesday, May 10, regarding Brady at OTAs. “I really don’t – I don’t need to see him. He’s done enough OTAs really to be honest with you. And this is what we’ve done really since me and him got together. We’ve really had no summer when it pertains to me and him. But the conversations that we have, the understanding of each other, that we have. We’ll be fine if he participates or not.”
Eyes Wide on the Receiver Room
Leftwich confirmed he wants to see what the team has without Godwin during Tuesday’s press conference.
The Bucs have a significant drop-off from Mike Evans and Russell Gage in terms of past production. With that said, Leftwich pointed out navigated depth issues before in 2019.
“Well, wide receiver depth — as you guys notice — we’ve had to use since we’ve been here,” Leftwich told the media, “we end up at Week 15 and we have nobody that we started the year off with us. ”
Notably, the Bucs did better in the 2021 season short handed than the 2019 team did. Last season, the Bucs rolled past Carolina and Philadelphia with Evans and no Godwin or Antonio Brown, who quit the team. The Bucs also nearly beat the Rams the in the Divisional Round shorthanded.
Until Godwin returns, the Bucs will need more production from Breshad Perriman, Cyril Grayson Jr., Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller, and Jaelon Darden. Those five receivers combined for three touchdowns last season.
“We just want to get everybody prepared — everybody to be their best selves — understand that they’re all a little different in what they bring,” Leftwich said.