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Bucs’ Jameis Winston gets his first preseason start at Raymond James

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Now that he is a grizzled veteran of one game, Tampa Bay Bucs‘ quarterback Jameis Winston will try to be a more efficient quarterback.

Winston starts for the second time for the Bucs after an up-and-down first game against the Minnesota Vikings. Winston hit nine of 19 passes, but he had a quarterback rating of only 48.4 yards largely due to a slow start.

In his second game, tonight against the Bengals at Raymond James Stadium, Winston will try to be better, but it will not be easier against a Bengals defense that forced quarterbacks to the third-worst quarterback rating in the NFL and allowed the third-fewest touchdown passes in the league.

“We have to (start fast) as a team,” Bucs’ coach Lovie Smith said. “Of course Jameis is a part of that. Last time we played Cincinnati (last season), we had a fast start defensively – got a takeaway on the first play of the game. So, yes, as a football team, we need to start faster. We had one turnover last (week). We don’t want to have any turnovers on the offensive side. We want to really win that turnover ratio.”

Quarterback coach Mike Bajakian said he just wants Winston to play better.

“Progress,” he said. “Again, making some of the throws that he missed and being on the same page with his wide receivers and tight ends. Things like that and playing the pitch and catch game. Obviously, continued progress in management of the offense and just overall, general improvement. (There’s) a couple things physically he can improve, but again, every day he’s coming out to work. Every day he’s getting better.

“He works hard at it. I would say, again, I don’t really have a baseline to compare it to but I would say compared to other guys, he’s picked up the offense quicker than I anticipated he would.”

Winston was pleased with his tempo for the first week. He is excited, he said, to play his first game at Raymond James Stadium.

“I don’t even know how much of my family is going to be attending this game,” Winston said. “I can’t speak of how excited and anxious I am to get out there in Raymond James (Stadium) and play. That’s one thing me and Kenny Bell discussed before the game: we have one profession where we can actually say we aren’t going to do a job today; we get to go out there and play. Play and have fun and play the game of football that we’ve been playing since we were young.

“I was just excited to be out there playing football. I had high expectations for our offense and we went out there and I exceeded my (expectations) of playing, just being able to be a quarterback for an NFL team and go out there and play against another team. So I was happy at that fact. But, you know, there is always room for improvement and we are going to get better every week.”

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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