At a Glance –
Player: Chris Godwin
Position: Wide Receiver
Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Injury: ACL and MCL sprain
Projected Recovery Time: 9-12 months
The reigning Super Bowl champions are once again heavy favorites in the NFC. However, in Sunday night’s performance versus the Saints, the Tampa Bay Bucs looked a little lackluster. Tom Brady got shut out for the first time since 2006, so you know the Bucs had a bad game. A large part of this story is that Brady’s offensive weapons left the game to significant injury. One of those key players was wide receiver Chris Godwin. Godwin, a favorite target of Brady, suffered a knee injury and was ruled out for the rest of the game. Recent reports confirm both an ACL and MCL injury, meaning that Godwin will miss the rest of the 2021 season. He will likely undergo surgery in the next month, while participating in physical therapy before and after to get him ready for the 2022 season.
This injury is a pretty severe one. The ACL and MCL are essential for restricting certain motions and providing stability. ACL injuries are all too common in the NFL, and adding an MCL sprain to the mix adds another level of complexity to both surgery and rehab, extending the recovery. The MCL provides stability against valgus forces, which push the knee inward and predispose a person to a lower extremity injury, and an injury to the MCL is essential to address to avoid re-injury when returning to higher level sports. Godwin will likely undergo surgery within the next month, reconstructing both the ACL and MCL. After surgery, Godwin will spend a lot of time with his physical therapy team. He will not be able to bear weight through his leg for 4 weeks but will be doing plenty of strengthening and stretching exercises until he is cleared to walk on his affected leg. After a traumatic injury and surgery to the knee, the quadricep muscle has difficulty functioning correctly, and focus of early treatment sessions will be on improving the quad’s ability to fire on command so that when Burrow can start higher level activities, he will be prepared. As was mentioned, ACL and MCL re-tears are associated with the valgus position so a huge focus on Godwin’s rehab program will be injury prevention. Strengthening the hips by doing variations of bridges and hip abduction exercises helps a person maintain a healthier knee position to avoid that valgus, and a lot of time will be dedicated to Godwin maintaining that healthy knee position while performing dynamic activities. Studies have shown that ACL tears have greater re-tear rates when returning to play before 9 months, no matter how strong or prepared a person is, because the new graft has not fully remodeled so it is very important that Godwin is patient and returns when his body is ready. He will be doing plenty of sprints and plyometrics to put his knee to the test before he is cleared to practice with the team and will likely not be ready to play when the 2022 season starts. This injury falls right before Godwin enters free agency, which will be all the motivation he needs to be ready to go for next year.
Watch this video to see the team demonstrate a few examples of exercises for this type of injury – in both the early stage and later stages of rehab.