The Bucs need to do a better job of blocking for quarterback Jameis Winston. But he also has to learn to protect himself.
Winston suffered a sprained right ankle in Monday night's 25-11 preseason win over the Bengals when he tripped over the feet of center Jeremiah Warren and was sandwiched between Bengals defensive linemen Geno Atkins and Wallace Gilberry. The injury was not serious and he is expected to start Saturday against the Browns.
While that hit may have been unavoidable, there have been others he may have contributed to. Winston also has scored two rushing touchdowns, diving for the pylon or the goal line in each instance. In the first preseason game at Minnesota, he took a blow to head when he failed to slide properly.
"That's something I've got to learn quickly,'' Winston said. "It's going to take some time for me to adjust. But I know I've got to protect my body and I've got to protect this team by staying injury-free.
Bucs offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter says the Bucs are working with Winston to make better decisions to preserve his health.
"Know when the journey is over? That's too far over my head,'' Koetter said. "I grew up in Pocatello, Idaho and when I was old enough, I just to drive to Jackpot, Nevada, to play blackjack, so I say, "know when to cut your losses.'
"Jameis is such a competitor, he has a hard time cutting his losses. He doesn't ever want to cut his losses. That's good and bad. That's well documented. He's going to make some plays, and we're going to love him, and there's going to be some other times we're going to say, "Get down! Get down!' That's how it's going to be, so get used to it. We're working on it, but get used to it.''
Winston admits he knows the Bucs have too much invested in him as the No. 1 overall pick and franchise quarterback to expose himself to more injury than necessary.
"I got to learn that, because I love to compete, I love to be competitive,'' Winston said. "But at the end of the day, it's like coach Koetter says, you've got to know just when to leave it alone. And I'm young right now and I love the action. You know, as quarterbacks, we don't get hit at practice so I want to go in there in the preseason and get it out of the way.''