ARLINGTON, Tex. (WFLA) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers kick off the 2022 NFL season against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. You can watch the game starting at 8:20 p.m. on WFLA, News Channel 8.
The game is an opening night rematch from last season, when the Bucs escaped with a 31-29 victory on Ryan Succop’s 36-yard field goal with two seconds to play in the game.
For the Bucs, the roster remains mostly intact from the past two seasons, but there are different faces in key positions. Many of those new players will impact tonight’s game.
Here are three things to watch tonight.
Protect Brady at all costs
Quarterback Tom Brady stunned fans by retiring, then un-retiring during the spring, restoring the most important piece of the offense under offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. At 45-years old, Brady says he feels even better than early in his career, but he will be under duress much of the night if the Cowboys can exploit a revamped interior offensive line.
Rookie guard Luke Goedeke and center Robert Hainsey will make their first NFL starts, facing an aggressive pass rush led by Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons, who registered 13 quarterback sacks a season ago.
How much Godwin is worth the risk?
Wide receiver Chris Godwin suffered a torn ACL last December and underwent surgery in January. His fight to recover and return to the lineup in just under nine months is an incredible feat. Before training camp, reports emerged that Godwin may be ready to play as early as the season opener. His fate will become official when the inactive list is released.
While Godwin is likely to at least suit up to play, it is unclear how much the Bucs are willing to use him. Free agent receiver Russell Gage Jr. was acquired during the off-season partly for this reason. However, Gage is questionable after injuring his hamstring early in camp.
Veteran Julio Jones joined the Bucs on the eve of camp and has impressed with his quick grasp of the offense. The Bucs may not need to see much of Godwin tonight, testing his leg with little risk.
Bowles back in charge
New Bucs head coach Todd Bowles joked that his second stint as a team leader may be easier because he “has all the answers to the test.” Bowles was set up for success in this run with the Bucs by former head coach Bruce Arians, who remains behind the scenes as a special assistant.
Bowles will remain in charge of the Bucs defense and that will have an impact on how he manages games, particularly in Bucs offensive scenarios. He inherits his own defense, with new lineman Akiem Hicks, who will boost an already stout run defense.
The linebackers will give second-year player Joe Tryon-Shoyinka his chance to shine, replacing Jason Pierre-Paul. And the secondary features new safeties Keanu Neal and Logan Ryan.
You can watch the Bucs take on the Cowboys starting at 8:20 p.m. on WFLA, News Channel 8. You can also follow along with live updates on the WFLA Twitter page.