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Bucs see need to help Winston with a better running game

Jameis Winston passes under pressure vs. the Rams, when he had personal highs of 36 completions, 58 attempts and 405 yards.
Published Sep. 29, 2016

TAMPA — Is there such a thing as too much Jameis Winston? After 142 pass attempts in three games — on pace for an NFL record — the Bucs would like to establish more of a run game, if not a lead on the scoreboard, so Winston doesn't have to throw as much.

"In the last two games, we've thrown too much," coach Dirk Koetter said Wednesday of losses to Arizona and Los Angeles. "We've got to quit getting behind by two scores, and we need to run the ball better."

Winston has set his career high for attempts two weeks in a row, with 52 against the Cardinals and 58 against the Rams. Sunday, he also set personal highs with 405 yards and 36 completions.

"As far as Jameis handling volume, heck, I'm sure he'd throw every time, if he could," Koetter said. "But for our team to be successful, we can't be throwing in the 50s and we can't be running in the 20s."

Less Winston can be more. He won the Heisman Trophy and a national title at Florida State in 2013 without throwing more than 35 passes in a game. He topped that seven times, with a high of 48 attempts, in a less dominant 2014 season in which FSU often faced early deficits.

Winston said he'll throw as much or as little as Koetter calls for and he'd like to avoid the deficits that lead to come-from-behind, pass-heavy play calls.

"My job is just to do whatever Coach Koetter asks me to do," Winston said. "Obviously, the way the game has been turning out, we have had to be in more passing situations, and I definitely take on that challenge. So I just do what I'm coached to do."

Winston's 142 passes in three games are the second most for a first- or second-year NFL quarterback, trumped by Drew Bledsoe in 1994.

INJURY UPDATE: C Joe Hawley, who had Rams DT Aaron Donald land on one of his ankles from behind in Sunday's loss, was held out of Wednesday's practice, along with four players who sat out Sunday with injuries.

Hawley was injured on the first play of the fourth quarter. Trainers attended to him on the field, and he returned after missing only one snap, so it's unlikely his injury is severe. His backup is Evan Smith, Tampa Bay's starting center in 2014 and at the start of last season.

Four Bucs who were injured in the Week 2 loss at Arizona and did not play Sunday did not practice again: RB Doug Martin (hamstring), DE Robert Ayers (ankle), TE Luke Stocker (ankle) and WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring).

THIS AND THAT: The Bucs signed WR Jonathan Krause, who was with them in the preseason and was cut from the Chargers' practice squad last week, back to their practice squad Monday. … It was an abrupt departure for TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins last week, arrested Friday morning on a charge of driving under the influence and waived hours later, but his Tampa Bay teammates said they expect him to bounce back with the Jets, who picked him up off waivers Monday. "I know Austin's going to grow up and Austin's going to do an amazing job in New York," Winston said. "He is an outstanding player, and I'm excited for his future. You fall down, you bounce back. That's just life."

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

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