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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Winston is a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year awards

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston is a strong candidate for two Rookie of the Year awards.


Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston is a strong candidate for two Rookie of the Year awards.



Cam Newton is the talk of Super Bowl 50, but another NFC South quarterback is getting plenty of attention this week in San Francisco.

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, who has appeared on various media outlets, including CBS, where he threw footballs with pinpoint accuracy while wearing a suit, is a strong candidate for two Rookie of the Year awards.

The first one is the Pepsi Rookie of the Year Award, an event starring singer Pharrell Williams, at Pier 70 tonight in San Francisco.

Winston, Rams running back Todd Gurley, Raiders receiver Amari Cooper, Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters and Seahawks receiver/kick returner Tyler Lockett are the candidates. The announcement is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. PST, or 12:30 a.m. EST Saturday morning.

On Saturday night at the NFL Honors award show, Winston, Cooper and Lockett will battle for the Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Winston joined Newton and Colts quarterback Andrew Luck as only the third rookie to pass for more than 4,000 yards as a rookie and accounted for 28 total touchdowns, 22 passing and six rushing. That’s the third most by a rookie in NFL history.

But Winston’s impact was far more reaching than his statistics. He emerged as the team’s emotional leader, uncommon for a rookie on a team that had gone 2-14 a year earlier. Like Newton, who won the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2011, Winston lived up to expectations as the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

Winston brought big plays back to the Bucs’ offense, which finished fifth overall with a franchise record 6,014 total yards. He had 57 passes of 20-plus yards, the sixth-most in the NFL.

"His stats and the fact that he led an offense that was best in franchise history speaks volumes,'' general manager Jason Licht said. "But it's the things you can't measure that were most impressive. He quickly established himself as the team leader. His passion for the game is remarkable, and his work ethic and dedication to making everyone around him better has been incredible. What he has done for this team, in a short amount of time, is simply special.''

Gurley would seem to be Winston’s biggest competition for both awards.

He did not play until nearly October, recovering from a torn ACL, but was named to the Pro Bowl after rushing for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns, surpassing the 100-yard rushing mark in each of his first four starts.

But Gurley had only one other game over 100-yards the remainder of the season, a 140-yard effort against the Detroit Lions Dec. 13.

As a quarterback, Winston handled every snap of every game for the entire season. And while the running back position is more instinctive, making the transition to the NFL easier, the quarterback position is impossible to master as a rookie.




[Last modified: Friday, February 5, 2016 1:47pm]


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