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Bucs' Winston: 10 turnovers, 11 pledges to protect the ball better

Bucs QB Jameis Winston, getting sacked by Broncos linebacker Von Miller, says he is very aware that he must protect the ball better.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Bucs QB Jameis Winston, getting sacked by Broncos linebacker Von Miller, says he is very aware that he must protect the ball better.

TAMPA — Jameis Winston has thrown eight interceptions and lost two fumbles this season, but he doesn't want to repeat his mistakes. Thursday, he kept repeating his pledge to not make mistakes.

In his weekly news conference, which lasted less than nine minutes, Winston said he needs to "protect the football," "take care of the football" or not "give the other team the ball," 11 times.

Here's a sample:

• "Everything is a mind-set on the football field, but it's a choice. I got a lot of decisions to make out there, so my choice is I have to protect the football."

• "I felt I've improved a lot from my first year to my second year. I just have to protect the football. That's the main thing. Just put us in better situations to win football games."

• "Teams usually come with whatever game plan they have, and it's typically pretty good. But like I said, it's more about me protecting the football and not teams doing things in particular."

INJURY UPDATE: The Bucs, scheduled to play at Carolina on Monday, got four injured players back at practice: DE Robert Ayers, DT Clinton McDonald, and tight ends Luke Stocker and Brandon Myers.

Six injured players remained out. DT Gerald McCoy (calf), RB Doug Martin (hamstring), RB Charles Sims (knee), DE Noah Spence (shoulder), WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring) and S Keith Tandy (calf) did not practice.

McCoy, perhaps the most significant of the injuries, has a calf strain but was said to be a possibility to play against the Panthers.

Spence said before practice that he dislocated his right shoulder in Sunday's loss to Denver and suffered a slight tear to his labrum. He said he didn't know when he would return to practice.

Ayers and Stocker have missed the past two games with ankle injuries. Myers left Sunday's game with a hip injury. McDonald, who missed the end of Sunday's game with what he called "full-body cramps," was listed as having limited participation in practice due to a hamstring injury.

With Martin and Sims still sidelined, the Bucs could have only two healthy running backs on the roster for the Panthers game: starter Jacquizz Rodgers and rookie Peyton Barber. So they may need to promote rookie Russell Hansbrough from the practice squad for depth. Hansbrough was with the Bucs in preseason, was cut from the practice squad three weeks ago and rejoined the team Wednesday.

THIS AND THAT: Coach Dirk Koetter said P Bryan Anger, fifth in the NFL in net punting entering Thursday at an average 43.3 yards per punt, has been "fantastic." Said Koetter: "It's not often that you're fired up to come up here and talk about your punter doing a good job." … If Derek Anderson steps in at quarterback for Carolina as Cam Newton deals with a concussion, it won't be the first time Koetter has faced him. When Koetter was the head coach at Arizona State, he faced Anderson, then at Oregon State, three times from 2002-04. Koetter's Sun Devils won two of three games, with Anderson throwing for three touchdowns and eight interceptions. … Former Bucs RB James Wilder, a Missouri graduate, will be inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame on Nov. 6.

Contact Greg Auman at gauman@tampabay.com and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman and @NFLStroud.

Bucs' Winston: 10 turnovers, 11 pledges to protect the ball better 10/06/16 [Last modified: Thursday, October 6, 2016 9:32pm]
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