Panther fans everywhere held their breath during game two last year in Buffalo when Charles Godfrey failed to get up after a play.
He didn’t appear to be in severe pain but there was clearly something wrong with the way he just sat there on the field. Fear started to mount when the cart came out because carts always suggest a serious injury. The worst fears were confirmed later that evening when the significance of his injury was reported. He had torn his Achilles, and was done for the season.
This was a devastating blow to a secondary that had already been under intense scrutiny, as it was perceived to be the weakest unit on the team.
This year Godfrey will have a full plate as he works to return from the injury. Aside from typical rehab that all players go through he will also be learning a new position.
Godfrey is being switched over to cornerback. A position he knows well having played there for most of his career in college. Godfrey started 28 games for the University of Iowa and 25 of those starts were at cornerback.
Getting Godfrey back will be a boost to the Panther secondary. He is a skilled player who brings a lot of experience onto the field with him.
However, he has a big challenge ahead of him as he works himself back into football shape. As the season gets underway it will be an ongoing process for him to get back to playing at the same level he did before. Achilles injuries often have a lingering effect on players as they return to play and that should be kept in mind when judging Godfrey’s game this coming season. There are two specific examples to think about.
In 2011 when Jon Beason was still a member of the Carolina Panthers he went down early in the first game of the season with an Achilles injury. Shortly after he was placed on IR and wasn’t seen for the rest of the season.
Despite all the talk of his recovery during the offseason he still couldn’t get back up to speed the following season in 2012. He appeared in only 4 games in 2012 before being shut down for the year again.
Last season, as many will remember, he appeared only in a few games with the Panthers before being traded to the Giants. He went on to play well for New York, proving he had fully recovered, but that did little to mend the broken hearts of Panthers fans who had expected a full recovery sooner than it turned out to be.
In 2010 the Houston Texan linebacker went down in week six with a torn Achilles tendon. Like in the case of Beason, the recovery was much talked about and Houston fans longed to see one of the teams best players back on the field in 2011. Ryans did play every game that year but finished with the worst season of his career. It ended with him being traded to the Philadelphia Eagles, where he went on to return to the form that made him 2006 Defensive Rookie of the Year and a regular in the Pro Bowl.
Now, what does all this mean for Godfrey?
Very little in truth because all players are affected differently by injuries and no recovery is the same. There is no reason to think that Godfrey will find himself in a similar situation and on another team before his recovery is complete. His restructured contract and willingness to switch position will offer plenty of reason to keep him around should he struggle during his return.
This should only serve as a warning to caution expectations of Godfrey as the season approaches. He is an incredible player and it will be great to see him on the field again, but if he has a difficult time getting back into game form it shouldn’t be held against him. Charles Godfrey can be an asset to the secondary. He deserves patience from fans and critics alike as he works on his return.
Eventually we will be seeing more of this again.