Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin says he'll be game-time decision but 'grateful' for progress from knee injury

TAMPA, Fla. -- Speaking publicly for the first time since returning to practice last month, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin said Thursday that he will be a game-time decision in Sunday's Week 1 opener at the Dallas Cowboys.

Godwin suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee in Week 15 last season against the New Orleans Saints.

"I don't have a definitive answer," Godwin said. "I'm just really grateful to be out there right now."

Godwin suffered the injury Dec. 19 and underwent surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews to repair the ligaments Jan. 3. He returned to practice with his teammates Aug. 5, which included purely individual drills. He began participating in some 7-on-7 work Aug. 16 and 11-on-11 work Aug. 22.

"I think it's a really like complicated process," Godwin said. "Obviously, you come off a major injury like this, you never really know how you're gonna feel. But I've been doing really well. Y'all see me out there practicing. I've been doing a lot of stuff, and like each day, it's very different than the day before. So, I think, ultimately, what it comes down to is, one, how I'm feeling, and then two, the discussions I've had with [coach] Todd Bowles and the training staff. I think whenever the time comes for the game, I think everybody will know, but until then, even I'm not sure."

While he hasn't been cleared for contact yet, Godwin shed his knee brace this week, which he called "phenomenal." He was listed as being a full participant in Wednesday's practice but did not practice on Thursday.

"I think it's just trying to be as smart as possible," Godwin said. "Because obviously the competitor in me wants to go as soon as I can. But just understanding that I wasn't there for the end of the season last year -- that stuff really gets to me. I've gotta be as smart as I can, trying to back the best decision, not just for myself but what I feel like is gonna help the team most down the stretch.

"I think anybody that's ever worn a knee brace understands how bulky those things are, how annoying they can be. But I think it really just speaks to like where I'm at in my process and the progress that I've made."

When asked about the Buccaneers bringing in new wide receivers Julio Jones and Russell Gage, Godwin said, "We have a loaded room of receivers that can go at every level of the field. We've got talented guys in the running back room and in the tight end room. We're not lacking in any way. So I think that really helps me in my process, allows me to feel comfortable waiting until I feel really comfortable to go out there and play."

Neither Godwin nor the Bucs have been committed to a specific timetable for Godwin's recovery -- it's simply when he is ready, and that determination will be made by Godwin and the medical staff. Bowles said Wednesday that he'd rather Godwin wait and return later in the season if it meant Godwin could return at full strength and maintain his health.

" [The games] count the same, but we want him well. I don't want him out there before it's time," Bowles said. "If he's healthy and ready to go and they clear him, and everybody feels he's ready to go and it's completely 100%, then you take your shot. Anything less than that, I'd rather him sit."

The injury was also a contact injury, and lining up in the slot in this offense does require him to navigate his way through traffic.

"I think that like whenever I go out there, it's because I feel really confident in where I'm at and in my ability to not only play, but to be able to take whatever hits I need to play," Godwin said. "Football's a violent game and you can't really like protect yourself from everything. So it's just like once I have the confidence in myself and like once it's the right time for me to go out there, it's just go out there and play and be free."