The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are "hopeful" Chris Godwin will return from a torn ACL for Week 1 of the 2022 campaign against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, who added it's not "out of the question."
In addition, Schefter noted that the Buccaneers won't rush Godwin back into action and that he would be "surprised" if the star receiver suited up for any preseason games.
Godwin injured his knee in a Week 15 matchup against the New Orleans Saints when P.J. Williams tackled him low. He was able to walk off the field but did not return to the game.
The 26-year-old underwent successful ACL surgery in January, and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that he was expected to make a full recovery. According to Cleveland Clinic, most people recover from an ACL tear in six to nine months.
If Godwin were to take a full nine months to recover, he wouldn't return to the field until October. A return in September would mean it took him eight months to fully heal from the ailment.
The Buccaneers have been more conservative in Godwin's recovery process. The veteran receiver hasn't taken part in any football-related activities, including OTAs and mandatory minicamp earlier this summer.
Getting Godwin back for Week 1 would be huge for the Buccaneers as he is one of the team's top receivers alongside Mike Evans.
In 14 games last season, he caught 98 passes for 1,103 yards and five touchdowns. It was his second NFL season with more than 1,000 receiving yards and his fourth straight season with at least five touchdowns.
The Penn State product signed a three-year, $60 million deal to return to the Bucs in March and will continue to be a significant part of the team's offense for years to come.
However, if he's unable to suit up for Week 1, Evans, Russell Gage, Jaelon Darden, Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller, Breshad Perriman and Cyril Grayson Jr. will be tasked with holding down the fort.
That said, more pressure will be put on the wide receivers this coming season after Tom Brady's favorite target, Rob Gronkowski, announced his retirement from football this summer, leaving Cameron Brate as the team's No. 1 tight end.