No surprise: Jameis Winston named Buccaneers starting QB
Jul. 31, 2015
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are turning over their offense to Jameis Winston.
Coach Lovie Smith officially named the first overall pick in the NFL draft his starting quarterback on Friday, saying the 2013 Heisman Trophy is ready for the role.
Even before the first practice of training camp, which is Saturday.
Winston shared snaps with third-year pro Mike Glennon during minicamp and OTA's, working with second- and third-stringers, as well as the No. 1 offense.
"We feel like we've let Jameis go through a process of the offseason, getting limited reps, working with both groups," Smith said Friday. "We put him in that position, but eventually you have to put them in the lead position and let them go."
The coach said Winston's reaction to entering camp atop the depth chart was about as expected.
"It's not like it's a total shock to him or anything like that," Smith said. "We brought him here to be our quarterback, and he is."
Winston was 26-1 as a starter in two seasons at Florida State. He led the Seminoles to a national championship as a redshirt freshman, then to a berth in last season's college football playoff, where FSU lost to Oregon, led by No. 2 overall draft pick Marcus Mariota.
The Bucs open the regular season against the Tennessee Titans, who selected Mariota.
"We're going to be a good football team. We realize areas we need to improve. Now it's time for all that talk to cease and get to work," Smith said hours after the full squad reported to camp.
Tampa Bay went 2-14 a year ago, missing the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season and ranking 29th in scoring and 30th in total offense.
One of the first moves during the offseason was releasing veteran quarterback Josh McCown. That paved the way for the selection of Winston, who not only impressed Smith and general manager Jason Licht as a player but also convinced them he's learned from poor decisions that got him in trouble off the field during his college career.
Winston was not made available for comment Friday, when veterans reported for training camp at the Bucs practice facility. Smith described the rookie as "excited" when he received the news that he's No. 1 on the depth chart.
"It's what we knew, what we saw in minicamp — again on the field, off the field. It's everything," the coach of the factors that went into the decision.
Glennon has gone 5-13 as a starter over the past two seasons. He was 1-4 — throwing for 1,417 yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions — filling in for an injured McCown in 2014.
"A lot has been said about Jameis and mentors and different things. Jameis doesn't need a mentor," Smith said. "Jameis is ready to take the reins and go with it. The mental part, the physical part, and just the being a quarterback in the NFL being able to take all the criticism that goes with it, he's ready for that."
Improving the offensive line was another priority after finishing 29th in rushing offense and allowing the third-most sacks in the league.
Two other rookies have a good shot at joining Winston as starters. Second-round draft picks Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet, will get an opportunity to wins jobs at left tackle and right guard.
Smith reiterated Winston is not the only key to turning around a team that's had three coaches and eight different starting quarterbacks since last making the playoffs.
"A lot will be talked about the quarterback. But how we're perceived and how we do this coming season will be based on a lot more than just that," the coach said.
"Offensively, we have to do some other things a lot better around the quarterback position, mainly running the football," Smith added. "Defensively, we have to start the season the way we finished up a little bit (last year) playing a lot better defense than we did early on."
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