Could Bucs finally reunite their weapons?

by Gary Shelton on October 17, 2020

in general

The Bucs have missed Godwin./STEVEN MUNCIE

Saturday, 3 a.m.

Together again? Tom Brady can only hope.

In the off-season, as Brady was weighing his options of where he wanted to take his career, one of the huge lures to Tampa Bay was its talented receiving cops.

That hasn't quite worked out. Mike Evans has been injured much of the season, and Chris Godwin has missed three games, and tight end O.J. Howard is out for the season. It has left Brady throwing to youngsters such as Scotty Miller, Justin Watson and Tyler Johnson.

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Sunday against Green Bay, however, there is a chance that both Godwin and Evans will play.

“I wouldn’t say they’re healthy," Bucs' coach Bruce Arians said. "They’re healthier, but I wouldn’t say they’re healthy. That’s a good problem to have. Special teams plays a big role in it as far as five, six [or] how many you dress. The punt return – Justin Watson does a ton on special teams. There’s a lot of little things that go in there. We’ll make those decisions as we get closer to Sunday (on) which five or six we dress.

“Chris practiced the majority of the week and it’s the best he’s looked in a while. He’s still sore, but he was able to get in front of the quarterback and show he’s got what he needs to have for this ballgame. It was good to see him out there because people don’t realize how big a part of our offense he is.”

A year ago, Evans and Godwin combined for 153 catches and 2,490 yards with 17 touchdowns. Newcomers can't quite match that production.

Godwin would be a welcome return.

“He’s a premier outside receiver and a premier slot," Arians said. "There are very, very few of those guys that can play all over the field and very few block like he blocks. [He] sets up the play action and sets up the tempo because he’s a great run after catch guy. He can go deep – he’s a very unique animal. He’s big in the screen game, he’s big in underneath stuff that he takes to the house. Very few guys are like him in this league.”

The return of the receivers could make Brady a better quarterback, Arians said.

“I think he’s dialed in really hard. When you start losing the pieces to the puzzle that you’ve worked with and start adding new pieces, it takes a little time. I thought he did a great job of incorporating (Jaydon) Mickens, (Cyril) Grayson (and Tanner]) Hudson all in the gameplan last week and [he was] not afraid to throw them the ball. Ke’Shawn (Vaughn) has evolved (and) Tyler (Johnson) has evolved. He’s got a lot of trust in these guys and hopefully when we get back to full speed, we’ll see how it goes.”

Still, even with their weapons back -- sort of -- the Bucs will be an underdog against Green Bay as the team tries to find its rhythm

"It’s really hard," Arians said. "Byron (Leftwich, the offensive coordinator) does a good job. I think the harder part is Tom not seeing those guys in practice until late in the week. You miss Wednesday, you miss Thursday [and] you get limited reps on Friday and try to play in a ballgame. He’s throwing to other guys (during the week) and sometimes that can be really, really hard on a quarterback, especially one that hasn’t been with these guys that long. It poses a lot of problems, but we’re working through it. Tom’s working through it and he’s done a great job with some of those young guys, too.”

The Bucs game against Green Bay starts at 4:25 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.

Prediction: Green Bay 23, Tampa Bay 20.

Other games:

Pittsburgh 24, Cleveland 21

Atlanta 24, Minnesota 20

Kansas City 28, Buffalo 17.

Temple 30, USF 13

North Carolina 31, FSU 20

Georgia 27, Alabama 24

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