Winston says injured shoulder improving, throws in practice
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Jameis Winston says his injured throwing shoulder is getting better.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback practiced again Thursday, throwing for the second straight day in preparation to face the New Orleans Saints.
This is the first time Winston has thrown early in the week since spraining the AC joint in his right shoulder on Oct. 15.
The past two weeks, he’s refrained from participating in passing drills on Wednesday and Thursday before taking all of the snaps with the first-team offense on Friday.
“I’m just following the plan,” Winston said. “It feels good to be back out there with the guys in a practice atmosphere, and hopefully it translates to the game.”
The Bucs (2-5) have lost four in a row, with Winston playing through the injury during losses to Buffalo and Carolina the past two games.
Coach Dirk Koetter felt the third-year pro played one of his best games against the Bills, but Winston did an about-face last Sunday, when he was sacked three times, threw two fourth-quarter interceptions and also lost a fumble in a 17-3 loss to the Panthers.
It’s the first time since Winston entered the league as the No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft that Tampa Bay failed to score an offensive touchdown.
The Bucs are second in the NFL in passing yards and are fourth in total offense, in part because they’ve played from behind in most of their games. They’ve also struggled to score touchdowns, ranking 18th in scoring at 21.1 per game.
Winston said the team is still developing an identity.
“It’s frustrating when you lose. That’s the biggest part to everything,” the 23-year-old quarterback said. “We click occasionally. Obviously, we want to strive for perfection, but when you lose it makes everything worse.”
Koetter said it’s difficult to know how much not throwing in practice on Wednesday and Thursday affected Winston the past two weeks, especially since the young quarterback played so well at Buffalo before struggling at home against Carolina.
Offensive coordinator Todd Monken agreed, but reiterated it’s also hard to expect any player to perform at a high level without practice.
“I know in the previous weeks he did a good job with the mental reps, but there’s nothing like throwing,” Monken said.
Winston, who topped 4,000 yards passing each of his first two pro seasons, has thrown for 1,853 yards this season — most through seven games in franchise history.
Nevertheless, he stressed he has to play better for the Bucs to turn around their disappointing start.
“This isn’t a time where we can have a huge team meeting and bring everyone in and start pointing fingers and say, ‘This is what needs to change.’ This is a time where all of us must be accountable for our own actions (and) check ourselves,” Winston said.
“We’ve got to look at ourselves in the mirror, and that’s what I’m starting with — me, personally. I know I have to play better for our offense to achieve what we can achieve,” he added. “I think that’s what everyone has to do. Everyone has to look at themselves and say: ‘What can I do to make the situation better?’”