1. Bucs

For Bucs' Jameis Winston, it all begins Saturday

Saturday, Jameis Winston is expected to play into the second quarter, an unusually heavy workload for the first preseason game. The Bucs feel it's necessary to get Winston as much experience as reasonably possible. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
Saturday, Jameis Winston is expected to play into the second quarter, an unusually heavy workload for the first preseason game. The Bucs feel it's necessary to get Winston as much experience as reasonably possible. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
Published Aug. 15, 2015


He has played on bigger stages and in a much hotter spotlight. In a few days, nobody will remember the final score of tonight's Bucs preseason opener against the Vikings. But don't tell Jameis Winston the game doesn't count. • Two days before his pro debut, Winston looked relaxed wearing a red shirt and black sweat pants, seated in an interview room at One Buc Place. The rookie quarterback had just completed the team's walk-through when asked what could constitute a successful debut. • "We win," Winston said matter-of-factly. "People always talk about preseason (like) you're not really focused about the winning and losing, but we need wins. That's very important to me, and I know it's important to those guys in the locker room, to get a win up under our belt.

"My personal goal is to lead the team the right way, to lead us to a victory. There's only so much I can do because I'm probably not going to be playing the whole game. I just want to do the right thing."

There are bound to be some hiccups for Winston this season, perhaps even against the Vikings. Despite his boundless upside, Winston has thrown his share of bad passes during the first few days of training camp. Tonight he is expected to play into the second quarter, an unusually heavy workload for the first preseason game. The Bucs believe Winston needs as much experience as reasonably possible.

And they are excited about watching him perform.

"Yes, there's a lot of excitement to see Jameis play for the first time, and our football team, hopefully, too," coach Lovie Smith said. "And with good reason. You had the first pick in the draft, and there's a lot that comes with that, but there are a lot of other things that we're excited about also. It's a team sport, and our team has looked good."

Winston will need help from some fellow rookies to be successful. Left tackle Donovan Smith and right guard Ali Marpet could see significant playing time. That puts the onus on offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to get the ball out of Winston's hand quickly.

"Four or five positions, I'm anxious to see exactly how they respond," Lovie Smith said.

Typically, rookie quarterbacks do well to be able to spit out the plays and understand where to go with the ball. The Bucs didn't game plan much for the Vikings, so Winston will have to do the best he can with diagnosing defenses.

Quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian said he would like to see Winston take care of the ball.

"Whether it's a rookie or a veteran, I think we're looking for a quarterback that will manage the offense," Bajakian said, "(one) that's going to take care of the football, that's going to use good judgment and make plays when they are presented.

"Obviously, there are a limited number of opportunities in the course of a game to make a play, and when that opportunity is presented, we have to be able to take advantage and make that play."

The plan to play Winston into the second quarter may change based on how the game unfolds. Bajakian said the things he will be looking for — presence in the huddle, technique, drop — may not be noticeable to the casual fan.

"There's been great progress in all those areas, and if you're sitting in the stands watching, you might not be able to see that," Bajakian said. "You might not be able to see how he stands in the huddle and decisively calls a play and executes the checks at the line of scrimmage and all those things. So he's making great progress both mentally and physically, and now, obviously, we just need to take that to the game."

Most of all, Winston said, this game is about the fun of being able to play football. He hasn't participated in a live game since January.

"It's his first NFL snap in a game situation, so he's excited," Bajakian said. "It's his first time in a Bucs game uniform, so there's definitely a level of intensity and, you know, the anxiousness that goes along with playing your first game at the NFL level. It's a dream that every boy has. He's excited for the game."


  1. Colin Kaepernick, middle, kneels for the national anthem. He hasn't taken a snap in the NFL for three full seasons now.
    "Inspire Change'' campaign is a sanitized version of what Colin Kaepernick tried to get across by kneeling for the national anthem.
  2. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) runs on the sideline in the second half of an NFL football game against Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. [ADAM HUNGER  |  AP]
    Manning: “From the very first moment I did it my way.”
  3. NFC cornerback Shaquill Griffin of the Seattle Seahawks gives a thumbs up during Pro Bowl NFL football practice, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano) [STEVE LUCIANO  |  AP]
    Third-year Seahawks cornerback is being rewarded for his standout season, and is excited to share it with his family. “We all made the Pro Bowl.”
  4. In this Oct. 23, 2016, file photo, a New Orleans Saints helmet rests on the playing field before an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo. The Saints are going to court to keep the public from seeing hundreds of emails that allegedly show team executives doing public relations damage control for the area's Roman Catholic archdiocese to help it contain the fallout from a burgeoning sexual abuse crisis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File) [JEFF ROBERSON  |  AP]
    Saints attorneys disputed any suggestion that the team helped the church cover up crimes, calling such claims “outrageous.”
  5. NFC quarterback Drew Brees, of the New Orleans Saints, throws a pass during a practice for the NFL Pro Bowl football game Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
    The Bucs could be impacted as they decide on Jameis Winston, with Brees’ New Orleans backup Teddy Bridgewater as a possible option.
  6. Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (94) celebrates a sack of Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019. [REED HOFFMANN  |  AP]
    John Romano | The Bucs played well enough on both sides of the ball to be one of the top 10 teams in the NFL. One stat kept them from possibly being the Chiefs or 49ers.
  7. Former Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm could be an interesting option for the Bucs to consider, if they want to move on from Jameis Winston. [BILL FEIG  |  AP]
    As the Bucs possibly look into moving on from Jameis Winston, here’s what fans should know about this draft’s quarterback class.
  8. In this Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, file photo, then-Patriots receiver Antonio Brown roams the sideline during the first half against the Dolphins in Miami Gardens. Law enforcement authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Brown, who along with his trainer has been accused of attacking a man near Brown's South Florida home in Hollywood. [LYNNE SLADKY  |  AP]
    The troubled NFL wide receiver is accused, along with his trainer, of attacking a man in South Florida.
  9. NFC linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, hands Sean Silverthorn, of Largo, Fla., two tickets to the Super Bowl after a practice for the NFL Pro Bowl football game Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla. [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
    At this time last year, he was a player without a team. Now, having earned his place among the game’s greats, the Buccaneers outside linebacker is making dreams come true for him, his family and a...
  10. In this Feb. 7, 2012 file photo New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy during the team's NFL football Super Bowl parade in New York. Manning, who led the Giants to two Super Bowls in a 16-year career that saw him set almost every team passing record, has retired. The Giants said Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020 that Manning would formally announce his retirement on Friday. [JULIO CORTEZ  |  AP]
    The two-time Super Bowl MVP is calling it quits after 16 seasons, all with the same team.