Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Winston continues to grow as Bucs leader
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston wrapped up his third NFL offseason Thursday and he is a far different player than the promising Heisman Trophy winner winner from Florida State who was the No. 1 overall pick in 2015. The biggest difference? Winston is now aiming to become elite, according to head coach Dirk Koetter.
"I would say Jameis is different in that he knows he can play in the NFL," Koetter said. "He knows he can be a successful player. Jameis, no one has higher expectations for his performance than he does. He's aiming to be elite, not just one of 32. And because he has such high expectations and we have high expectations, it's a never-ending process. We're hard on Jameis and he's hard on himself. Always improving but not where he wants to be.
"What's changed is when you come into the league as a rookie, even though you had great success in college, you're playing with grown men no and there's just a lot more thrown at you. The disguise is so much different. The way the defense looks. He's seen 32 NFL starts, so experience is the best teacher. We've talked about this before. But the Tom Bradys and Matt Ryans of the world have got a lot of reps on Jameis."
A big emphasis for Winston this offseason is protecting the football. But with an array of new weapons such as DeSean Jackson, O.J. Howard and Chris Godwin, combined with the need to experiment, improvement in that area hasn't been as evident. Winston has had 42 turnovers in this first two seasons (33 interceptions and nine lost fumbles).
"There's such a fine line because you want to protect the football, but at the same time, you got to experiment," Koetter said. "We're working with new things. New personnel. We've been doing a lot of red-zone work the last two days and we're trying to work some back shoulders to (rookie tight end) O.J. (Howard). Well, if you don't throw them to him, if you don't ever throw any, you're not going to complete any. So, we have to temper that.
"Obviously, when we don't have fans out here, when we don't have media out here, we don't have to tell you guys what it looks like. But when you guys are out here, you're going to make your own judgments. Some of them are right and some of them aren't right."
When the final mandatory minicamp ended early, with kickers Roberto Aguayo and Nick Folk combining to make all four field-goal attempts, only one player wanted to continue practice.
"We called practice early there. Jameis is the one guy in the huddle who wanted to keep going," Koetter said.