Saturday, June 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs-Seahawks: How Russell Wilson influenced Jameis Winston

TAMPA — The last time QBs Jameis Winston and Russell Wilson were on the field together was in January, when they were teammates at the Pro Bowl in Honolulu.

They will be reunited for Sunday's Bucs-Seahawks game at Raymond James Stadium. Winston credits his improved conditioning and fitness to his long conversations with Wilson.

"Russell and (Vikings QB) Teddy Bridgewater were a huge part of me getting healthy and preparing my body the way I should," Winston said. "Russell is a true professional, and he does his job the right way. So I learned so much from him as far as what to eat, what a Pro Bowl quarterback should be like."

Wilson said Wednesday he was a big fan of the former Florida State quarterback before Winston entered the NFL.

"I've always been very fond of Jameis in terms of the quarterback that he is and the competitor that he is, first of all," Wilson said. "I think he's a tremendous player, and I have tons of respect for him there. And I had the opportunity to be around him. We have actually common acquaintance, Trevor Moawad, who works at Florida State.

"He's their mental coach and sports psychologist. … And then we went to the actual Pro Bowl, and we were on the same team. … I just continued to discuss with him and talk to him about the game of football and what it takes to excel on a consistent basis. He asked tons of questions in a good way.

"He's a guy who wants to know and wants to learn."

They could meet in the Pro Bowl again after this season. Winston entered Thursday fifth in the NFL with 20 touchdown passes. Wilson has thrown only two interceptions in 335 passing attempts.

FAMILIAR FOE: One of Wilson's biggest targets is no stranger to the Bucs or defensive coordinator Mike Smith. TE Jimmy Graham, who played for the Saints from 2010-14, is having his best season with the Seahawks with 45 catches for 639 yards and four touchdowns.

"We know he's a good football player, and we're going to try to game plan and try to take him out as much as we possibly can," said Smith, who faced Graham twice a year when he was the head coach of the Falcons.

"The issues that you have when you're playing an offense like the Seahawks, is you've got (Doug) Baldwin that's a wide receiver that you have to put resources on, and you've also got to make sure that you can control the quarterback and keep him in check. Jimmy's an outstanding athlete, and when you start talking about upper-echelon tight ends … unfortunately for us, we've not fared well against tight ends throughout the season.

"I don't think you can put one guy on (Graham) and say, 'Shadow him all day' because of the position that he plays and where he lines up and the different formations."

INJURY UPDATE: CB Brent Grimes, who left Sunday's game at Kansas City in the first quarter with a quadriceps injury, returned to practice Thursday on a limited basis. G Kevin Pamphile also practiced but still is in the league's concussion protocol. "Hopefully not much longer," coach Dirk Koetter said. RB Jacquizz Rodgers (foot) and TE Luke Stocker (ankle) also practiced for the second straight day. G/C Evan Smith (knee) did not participate.

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