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Fans vote Bucs' Jameis Winston NFL rookie of the week

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston wins a fan-voted rookie of the week award for his performance in a win against the Saints on Sunday.
Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston wins a fan-voted rookie of the week award for his performance in a win against the Saints on Sunday.
Published Sep. 26, 2015

TAMPA — After a disastrous NFL debut, QB Jameis Winston was hoping for the bounce back performance he had in last Sunday's 26-19 win over the Saints. The Bucs needed it even more.

Winston completed 14 of 21 passes for 207 yards and one touchdown, and ran for another score. His 114.6 passer rating was the fifth highest in the NFL in Week 2 and the fifth best in club history.

That effort earned Winston's fan-voted rookie of the week award, announced Friday.

"It's always great to get acknowledged for good play by the fans, and we are happy to see Jameis receive that recognition after his performance last week ," coach Lovie Smith said. "I know his focus all along has been to improve his level of play and put his team in a position to win each week. He did a great job on both fronts last week, and we look forward to seeing him build on that as the season progresses."

Winston engineered touchdown drives to end the first half and begin the second half against the Saints, giving the Bucs a 23-7 lead in the third quarter. Though he wasn't spectacular, he mostly avoided the early mistake that got the Bucs in a big hole in the season-opening loss to the Titans. Winston was intercepted on his first NFL pass attempt, and it was returned for a touchdown.

After the regular season, five players will be nominated for's fan-voted rookie of the year honor. Fans can vote for the winner at throughout January. The winner will be announced Feb. 6, the night before Super Bowl 50.

FRONT AND CENTER: Timing in life, and football, is everything.

Needing experienced depth on the offensive line, the Bucs signed former Falcons C Joe Hawley six days before their game at New Orleans. Bam. Starting C Evan Smith went down with an ankle injury in the second half and Hawley found himself in the game.

"It was a little sooner than I thought I'd be in there, but I was ready (and) prepared," Hawley said. "Thank goodness I know the offense, very familiar with the way (offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter) runs it. I was thankful for the opportunity to come and help this team out, and I was there when they needed me.

Koetter ran a similar system when he was with the Falcons from 2012-14.

"I'm just feeling more comfortable being an outsider and earning everyone's respect," Hawley said. "I think I did that a little bit when I was able to go in there and perform and help the team win."

Lovie Smith said Hawley played well against the Saints.

"It's huge for us," the coach said. "He came in last week, and we didn't miss a beat. Evan was playing really well before that. But to be able to get a player like that, who's been in the system, seen an awful lot, he blended right into our group."

LINEUP CHANGE? CB Alterraun Verner, who started every game in which he has played in his pro career with the Titans and Bucs since 2010, may have lost his job to Tim Jennings, who took first-team reps Friday.

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INJURIES: TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder), Evan Smith (ankle) and S Major Wright (abdomen) did not practice. Seferian-Jenkins will not play Sunday against the Texans; Smith and Wright are listed as doubtful. DT Gerald McCoy (shoulder), CB Mike Jenkins (hamstring) and DE T.J. Fatinikun (shoulder) were limited and listed as questionable.


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