Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jameis Winston in better shape already during offseason prep work

TAMPA — There is a lot less to dislike about Jameis Winston this season. For instance, he's down to a svelte 230 pounds and falling, making him a fraction of the quarterback that took the NFL by storm.

You remember a year ago, when Winston was the most polarizing presumptive No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft in, well, maybe ever?

Revered or reviled, he came into One Buc Place toting enough baggage to fill his own carousel. He was told to split reps with Mike Glennon, that rookies were to be seen and not heard, repeating how ''blessed'' he was to be surrounded by so many leaders that you kept looking for the pull string in his back.

But after watching Winston pass for 4,024 yards and total 28 touchdowns (22 passing, six rushing), plus a couple of TD passes in the Pro Bowl, and pick up his Pepsi Rookie of the Year award (in fan voting) at Super Bowl 50, the Bucs aren't even trying to conceal the real face of their franchise.

"Jameis is very perceptive about not only what he needs to get better but what our offense and our team needs to get better," coach Dirk Koetter said. "That's one of the things when you're around him more, he's mature way beyond his years with that sort of thing. The reason I got a smile is because that's a good thing for the Bucs."

How important is Winston to the Bucs? Put it this way. If he chugs a drink too quickly, the whole team will get the hiccups.

That's why the Bucs trotted Winston out before the media on the first day of offseason workouts Monday.

The first thing you will notice is that the guy has spent some time in the gym. Remember the unflattering picture of the boiler above his belt prior to the NFL scouting combine last year? Winston isn't going to be on any muscle magazine covers, but he is perceptively leaner. Koetter said this spring he would look out his office window at 7:30 in the morning to spy Winston alone on the practice field, running sprints, a parachute strapped to his waist for resistance.

Winston said he was struck by the physical conditioning maintained by fellow Pro Bowl players such as Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Falcons receiver Julio Jones. So when he returned from Hawaii, he hired Tim Grover, Michael Jordan's former trainer, and has worked out with him once a month along with regular sessions with Bucs strength coach Dave Kennedy.

"I do believe I get better every single day and I look good," Winston said.

Koetter told Winston he wanted him to have a better chemistry with receiver Mike Evans. So Winston started hanging out with him on and off the field, organizing off-campus throwing sessions to work on the deep ball.

"Everywhere I'm at, he's trying to find me, see what I'm doing," Evans said. "He wants to hang out, he wants to go throw all the time, so he's doing the right things and he's a workaholic."

Winston wouldn't let Evans do all the running. "He goes out there and he'll run a 50-yard route, I will sprint 50 yards down the field, wherever he had caught the ball," Winston said.

It's hard to imagine the Bucs could duplicate the success they had in the 2015 draft when they selected four starters, including tackle Donovan Smith, guard Ali Marpet and linebacker Kwon Alexander. But Winston is eager to welcome the new players.

"Because I know when I came in, a lot of people have their guard up because they don't know what to expect," Winston said.

Finally, there is a spirituality to Winston that wasn't as prevalent last season. He was baptized with his girlfriend, Breion Allen, at a Pro Athletes Outreach event last month in Colorado Springs. On Monday, he quoted Bible Scripture when asked about his leadership style.

"If you're trying to push leadership on guys, that guy is not going to want to follow you," Winston said. "Me and the Chaplain, Doug (Gilcrease), we were talking about biblically what leadership means. Leadership means to serve others. As long I as I can serve the guys around me, I feel like I'm doing a good job of being a leader to them and I know they will do anything for me just like I will for them."

Monday marked five months to the day before the regular-season opener, only the first step in a new journey.

"It was good to see everybody coming in excited and I was very excited for Coach Koetter," Winston said. "He made a big statement in there in the team room and we're just pumped, man. We're ready to get this thing going."

Make no mistake, only Winston can lead them.

Jameis Winston in better shape already during offseason prep work 04/11/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 12, 2016 8:29am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tim Tebow Week: 12 stories from his Tampa Bay tour

    Minors

    Alas, Tim Tebow Week — eight baseball games in eight nights that reunited Tebow with his Tampa Bay friends and admirers — is over. The fun ended Thursday night.

    St. Lucie Mets outfielder Tim Tebow meets fans and signs autographs before the beginning of the Mets at Threshers game at Spectrum Field on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 in Clearwater. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times

  2. Bucs journal: Kicker Nick Folk has up and downs against Jaguars

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE — If the Bucs had hoped for a drama-free night in their kicking game, they'll have to wait another week.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk celebrates one of his two made field goals against the Jaguars, but he also misses a field goal and has an extra point blocked.
  3. Bucs top Jaguars behind strong first half

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE

    There is a reason why the air in Tampa Bay is filled with playoff talk. If Thursday night's 12-8 Bucs preseason win over the Jaguars is any indication, it's also going to be filled with footballs thrown by quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Doug Martin gets the Bucs’ only touchdown  on a 2-yard run, squeaking past linebacker Telvin Smith in the first quarter. He has five carries for 30 yards.
  4. Rays journal: Archer has strong outing, with two mistakes

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Two pitches RHP Chris Archer didn't execute are the ones that stood out Thursday as Josh Donaldson hit them out of the park. But the two solo home runs aside, Archer turned in a sterling outing that went atop the pile of good pitching the Rays keep wasting.

    Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) works during the first inning. [Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP]
  5. Tim Tebow continues wowing fans as he wraps up bay area games

    Minors

    CLEARWATER — Tracey Fritzinger has seen Tim Tebow play baseball a few times this year. The 40-year-old St. Petersburg resident went to two of his games against the Tampa Yankees, along with Joy, her little sister from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

    St. Lucie Mets outfielder Tim Tebow, middle, hangs out in the dugout during Thursday night’s game against the Clearwater Threshers at Spectrum Field, the last of St. Lucie’s eight-day trip to the Tampa Bay area.