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Jameis Winston downplays visit to top surgeon for shoulder injury

By Rick Stroud
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) watches from the sideline in the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Butch Dill) LAGH126

TAMPA — The day began with news that injured quarterback Jameis Winston visited Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola on Tuesday.

Uh-oh, Bucs fans were thinking. This could be serious. Andrews is one of the country’s top orthopedic surgeons and has an unmatched client list of sports figures.

What if his decision was to make an incision?

But the visit was only a consultation and there’s no indication that new damage was found in his injured right throwing shoulder, Winston said.

"I’ve known Dr. Andrews for a long time. Part of the protocol," Winston said Wednesday. "I mean, all the doctors are working together to come up with what they think. All I know is for the next two weeks, I’m going to be rehabbing and getting my shoulder 100 percent. That’s all I can say."

While the Bucs give Winston’s sprained AC joint a chance to heal, Ryan Fitzpatrick will start Sunday against the Jets, one of his former teams.

Andrews has been consulted by the Bucs since Winston was hurt Oct. 15 at Arizona, coach Dirk Koetter said.

"It’s very common for many players in the NFL to get second opinions on injuries, especially quarterbacks in their throwing shoulder," Koetter said.

Koetter was asked if he was concerned that Winston eventually will need surgery.

"That’s a medical question," he said. "Is there concern? Yeah, sure there is concern any time your starting quarterback is hurt. They’re telling us right now that the best option is to rest it."

Though Winston’s sore shoulder is the reason given for his benching, the Bucs are 0-4 since his injury and have scored a total of nine points in the first half of those games.

"I would hope that it’s based on me getting healthy," Winston said of being sat. "Obviously, the performance for last game (Sunday against the Saints) — and really, the Arizona game and the Carolina game (Oct. 9) — wasn’t there. But we just started talking about performance when, the first quarter of the season, we were top 10 in every category offensively. I hope that this is just strictly on my injury."

In a 12-minute news conference, Winston addressed several issues people have been buzzing about since the 30-10 loss at New Orleans: an apology for his sideline outburst that led to the one-game suspension of receiver Mike Evans, being a bench warmer and finger-licking W’s.

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Before Winston spoke about his visit with Andrews, he began with a heartfelt mea culpa.

Winston was out of the game and on the sideline in the second half when he went onto the field and poked Saints defensive back Marshon Lattimore in the back of the helmet. Evans, who did not see how the altercation began, charged across the field to protect his quarterback and blindsided Lattimore with a hard push in the back.

The NFL upheld the suspension on appeal. Evans will miss the Jets game pay a fine of $40,588, the equivalent of one game check. Koetter said Evans should have been ejected from the game.

"I just want to apologize on behalf of my teammates and Mike Evans for the incident that happened in the Saints game," Winston said. "That’s something I can’t do. In the heat of the moment, again, my competitive nature, obviously I can’t come onto the field and make any gesture towards an opponent, let alone touch him. So I can’t do that, so I apologize for that."

Winston said he expected to be fined. He also said fans shouldn’t wonder if his action demonstrated a lack of character: "It was … the heat-of-the-moment type thing," he said.

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Winston’s streak of 40 consecutive starts will end Sunday, so he will have to find other ways to support his teammates.

"It’s challenging, but at the same time, it gives me an opportunity to be there for my teammates in any way that I can, not just on the field," Winston said.

"Obviously, I want to be out there playing. I love this game. I’m very passionate about this game. But I look at it as a great opportunity to rest and become 100 percent. I’ve got a lot of trust in Ryan (Fitzpatrick), very much so that it’s a blessing in disguise that he gets to face two opponents that he’s been facing his whole career (the Bucs play the Dolphins on Nov. 19).

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Winston said he is not surprised by the negative response he has gotten about his goofy, finger-licking pregame speech about eating W’s, as in wins, that was captured on video.

"When you’re losing, everything is magnified and everything is worse," he said.