Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs' Winston aware that he can't yet carry team on back

TAMPA — Humility can be hard to find for a No. 1 overall draft pick, but Bucs rookie Jameis Winston said Wednesday that he understands he isn't yet the kind of NFL quarterback whom defenses have to game-plan to stop, as he was in college.

"I'm really nobody in this league yet, so they don't have to worry about me," Winston said as the Bucs prepare for Sunday's game at Washington. "I have great teammates that do a great job, and we have a great team. That's what I think the biggest thing about this league is: You have complete team wins. … I think this game is just a complete team game, whereas college, one person basically can take over the game."

With seven touchdown passes and seven interceptions in five games, Winston ranks 30th in the NFL in QB rating, one spot ahead of his opponent this week, Kirk Cousins. Winston, who has been able to limit his turnovers in the Bucs' two wins, said he has already learned "the ultimate lesson" about not turning the ball over. He looks forward to developing into the kind of passer who can take over games and lead his team to victory, even if he's not there yet.

"Hopefully one day I can, but for right now I'm just trying to get better every year and trying to get some wins under my belt," he said. "I'm just trying to do my role, play my part."

Washington coach Jay Gruden said he has followed Winston's career since his days at Florida State and sees the progress he's already making.

"He's an exciting player," Gruden said. "Sometimes he makes some mistakes, as all quarterbacks do, but he'll make the big play for you, also. … He's learning the ropes right now. … What helps him out is a strong running game, and that's what I can't stress enough about our team … to help the quarterback out through those early stages of their career by having some balance and having a good running game. That's what they're trying to do in Tampa, and that's what we need to do also here for us to have a chance."

INJURY UPDATE: The Bucs held only three players out of practice, with TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) and LG Logan Mankins (groin) joined by LB Bruce Carter, who has a thigh injury.

Seferian-Jenkins had expressed hope he could play Sunday after missing three games, and he was busy before practice, throwing and catching with offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. Mankins is two weeks removed from his injury, which ended a personal streak of 40 games played, with backup T Kevin Pamphile filling in well in his place.

Carter was signed in the spring to be the team's middle linebacker, but rookie Kwon Alexander took that job in preseason, so Carter's main role has been on special teams while backing up Danny Lansanah at strongside linebacker.

Two players joined the injury list, with T Reid Fragel (head) and DT Tony McDaniel (groin) both listed as "limited participation." Other players who were limited: DT Gerald McCoy (shoulder), WR Russell Shepard (hamstring) and C Evan Smith (ankle).

RESTART: The team sent a small group of players — including WR Mike Evans and CB Tim Jennings — back into One Buc Place briefly at the start of practice, stopping a stretching session until they returned.

"You're asking me to go over something that's between the team and I? I choose not to do that," coach Lovie Smith said.

THIS AND THAT: Washington had seven players held out of practice with injuries, including CBs DeAngelo Hall and Chris Culliver, LB Keenan Robinson and WR DeSean Jackson. Former Armwood High and Gators RB Matt Jones, who missed Sunday's game with a toe injury, was able to practice with full participation. … Former Bucs draft pick Joey Iosefa, a fullback from Hawaii, was signed to the Patriots' practice squad. … Bucs practice squad WR Evan Spencer was a Washington draft pick and was with the team until final preseason cuts. He'll be working on the scout team this week, simulating his former teammates to prepare the Bucs for Sunday's game.

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

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