TAMPA — Jameis Winston says he has to do a better job of protecting the ball or the Bucs will take it out of his hands.
Winston was intercepted three more times in a 34-17 loss at Minnesota on Sunday. Winston has 25 turnovers in 17 career road games. The Bucs host the Giants on Sunday, and Winston knows he has one main job to do.
"Protect the football," he said Thursday. "That's the main thing. I talk about it all the time. If you look at last week's game, that's what it came down to. It came down to turnovers."
Winston underthrew wide-open receiver DeSean Jackson in the second quarter when a touchdown would have cut the Vikings' lead to 14-10. The pass was intercepted, and the Vikings used the turnover to drive 92 yards for a touchdown.
Winston was intercepted twice in the fourth quarter while trying to mount a comeback. He passed for 328 yards and two touchdowns to go with the three picks.
"It's a consistent reminder that Jameis, you cannot stop getting better," Winston said. "You've got to continue to improve. … Obviously, I've got to get better quickly or there's going to be some consequences I might hate. But like I said, for this team's sake, I got to do a better job of giving us a chance."
What consequences is Winston referring to?
"Consequences would be us running the ball 30 times a game," Winston said. "I like throwing the football.
"I was talking with my pops, and he said, 'Man, if you turn the ball over, they're going to run the football. You're not going to be able to throw the football.' Like I said, for the team's sake, I have to be able to be trusted. And when the quarterback is trusted, a lot of things go smooth."
A year ago, during one of Winston's turnoverfests, RB Jacquizz Rodgers ran for 10 straight plays to start the game at Carolina and finished with 30 carries for 101 yards. The Bucs beat the Panthers 17-14.
Tough it out
For the second time in as many seasons, DE Noah Spence (right) is dealing with shoulder issues that will force him to wear a protective harness to lessen the potential for additional dislocations. He isn't going to let that keep him from playing.
"It's not a big deal — just staying in my strap, staying on top of it," said Spence, who was back at full participation in practice after dislocating the shoulder Sunday against the Vikings and returning to the game after the shoulder was popped back in. "This is a blessing that's it's nothing worse. Everything's manageable. It's going to be different, but it's still playing football, nothing crazy."
The Bucs may be without their top two linebackers Sunday against the Giants if Lavonte David (ankle) and Kwon Alexander (hamstring) are sidelined. David said he trusts in the depth at linebacker to step up into larger roles if needed.
"As a group, as a unit, we always thrive on trying to be the best we can be, and being the best unit on the field," said David. "You can tell by the way we prepare for game days, in the film room. I'm very comfortable, and we all feel like we're starters, and I feel like there will be no dropoff, whoever's out there."
David and Alexander haven't practiced this week, and if both are out, that means rookie Kendell Beckwith — who played every defensive snap Sunday in his second NFL game — adds the responsibility of communicating the defensive call and Adarius Glanton is elevated into a primary every-down role next to him. "If I can't go, all I can do is be the leader that I am, to prepare guys the way I prepare," David said. "Just try to encourage them and let them know I have confidence in them to step in and fill the void."