He is big enough to play. He is strong enough to play. He throws the ball well enough to play.
Evidently, Jameis Winston is also smart enough to play.
Although Winston threw another interception in Friday’s practice, Tampa Bay Bucs head coach Lovie Smith praised the mental sharpness of his quarterback. For a team that didn’t always play especially smart last year, that’s welcome news.
“He gets it,” coach Lovie Smith said. “Since him coming out, we’ve talked a lot about how bright he is and all that. That’s the case. He knows what to do. That’s the first part for all players to get in position.
“Defensive guys – know your gaps, know what you are supposed to do.Then you can play fast. Of course on the offensive side and with Jameis, he knows what to do. Now, that hard part of taking that next step. He’s thrown good passes, but he is still a rookie and we realize that. We just want him to improve on something each day and that is what he is doing.”
Smith did caution that Smith had a ways to go as far as his play-recognition, which isn’t rare for a rookie completing his first week of practice.
“That’s a part of it,” Smith said. “It’s not like we are going to change everything he has done completely. You are always tweaking what somebody does. If you look at the NFL – 32 teams – every quarterback does something a little bit differently. We are fine-tuning some things with Jameis, but we are with Ali Marpet, Donovan Smith, (linebacker) Lavonte David. I think that’s constant where you are looking to improve the technique where someone can be more productive.”
Winston said that a lot of nights, he is up until 1:30 a.m. studying his playbook unless he has to get up early. Then he goes until 11:30 p.m. Somewhere on the film is the lesson about bouncing back after messing up.
“You know, it’s competition, so if you make a mistake you have to bounce back,” Winston said. “That’s one thing about being a good quarterback; you know, snap and clear. I never let one thing hold me down. It’s about moving forward. It’s about the guys seeing me bounce back, what are they going to say? ‘This guy, he’s ready, he’s going to fight for us.
“Absolutely. I have no choice (but to improve daily). We are installing new plays every single day. Different reads, different progressions and I’m throwing to different people all the time. So I have no choice but to get better every day. If I chose to take a day off, it wouldn’t be smart.”
Winston said he was pleased with the reception he has gotten from the fans of Tampa Bay so far.
“I’m very pleased, but it’s my job to keep doing good and it’s my job to keep the fans loving us,” he said. “Obviously I love this city, I love being here. It’s very exciting; this is an insane time for me right now. I’m 21 years old, living my dream and getting a chance to play great football in a great city.”
Winston said he was developing a nice chemistry with his receivers.
“That’s really what it’s about,” he said. “I’m not throwing to Mike (Evans) and Vincent (Jackson) every single rep, you know? It’s about getting other guys, giving them opportunities to be able to make this team.
Those guys, obviously, are great guys, and you can’t really develop the chemistry you need to with one person because everybody’s getting thrown into different positions. That’s why I always have to commend the receivers on that aspect of them learning every single route, every single concept and going out there and trying to perform their best.”
Winston is already working with two rookies on the first team (tackle Smith and guard Marpet, and receiver Kenny Bell – Winston’s roommate – is showing signs that he may vie for playing time, as well.