1:03 PM ET
Jenna LaineESPN Staff Writer
- Covered the Buccaneers since 2009
- Joined ESPN in 2016
TAMPA, Fla. — Chris Godwin returned to practice Friday for the first time since entering the concussion protocol on Wednesday, but Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said the Pro Bowl wide receiver is doubtful for Sunday’s home opener against the Carolina Panthers.
“He’s still going through the protocol,” Arians said Friday. “That was part of the protocol. We’ll still do some more stuff tomorrow. He’s still doubtful. But he did get through this part.”
During the 20-minute portion of practice that was open to the media, Godwin went through some light stretching and pass-catching on the sideline with the training staff. Light exercise, football-specific exercise and even noncontact drills are all permissible within the NFL’s five-step concussion protocol.
Godwin led the Bucs with 79 receiving yards against New Orleans last Sunday, but he took a fourth-quarter hit to the helmet by D.J. Swearinger that drew an unnecessary roughness penalty.
In his breakout year last season, Godwin recorded 1,333 receiving yards — third most in the NFL — despite missing the final two games of the season.
The Bucs’ other Pro Bowl wide receiver, Mike Evans, has been limited by a hamstring injury but played through it Sunday. When asked how their status impacts the game plan, offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said Thursday, “With who they are, it changes a lot.”
If Godwin can’t clear concussion protocol by Sunday, expect Justin Watson and Scotty Miller to get more looks. Miller caught six passes for 73 receiving yards against New Orleans. The 6-foot-3 Watson caught one pass for 6 yards, but he could get opportunities to work the middle of the field because of his size.