Perhaps by now you thought it would be his team. Perhaps by now, you thought it would be his offense.
On the other hand, Jameis Winston just got here.
And, at least for Thursday’s practice, he was still splitting time with Mike Glennon at the OTAs for the Tampa Bay Bucs.
Yes, Glennon, who won one game last year. Glennon, who couldn’t get off the bench down the stretch when the season was lost.
Yeah, that Glennon.
Bucs’ coach Lovie Smith, however, says everything is still in progress. In fact, Smith said that on the previous day’s practice – not open to the media – Winston had run with the No. 1s.
This is an indication of how much is expected of Winston. It is early June, and already, people expect him to have this offense by the throat. And why hasn’t he?
“Jameis and everybody else is going to earn their positions,” Smith said. “Jameis is getting his first-team reps. Don’t look too much into that. We just want the guys we think can play to get reps and we want them to work with a lot of different combinations. Jameis is right on schedule. I’m not disappointed in him or anything like that.”
Baby steps. So far, Winston seems to be building a nice chemistry with his receivers. That was one of the few strengths of the Bucs a year ago. As bad as the quarterbacking was, and with no offensive coordinator, and with a weak offensive line, both Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson had good years.
Now they have Winston, you might expect them to be better.
“It’s a good ball,” said Evans of Winston’s ball. “He throws a good ball. He goes through his reads and makes the right decisions.”
As far as Glennon, Evans says he sees competition.
“They are both making great throws,” said Evans. “So it looks like they are competing. They are just making good throws. They split the first team from time to time.”
Jackson says he has been impressed with Winston.
“Everything we’re throwing at him – this new system, it puts a lot on the quarterback and expects them to make plays,” Jackson said. “He’s handling it well and that’s exciting to see from a young guy. He’s very dynamic. He puts touch on it when he needs to, but he will sling it, he will fire it across you there when he knows it’s a tight window. He’s a very sound quarterback and he’s only going to get better because you see his competitiveness. He doesn’t want to miss a throw. He comes out here every day and works at his craft.”
So far, Jackson said that Winston has been a bit shy.
“He’s been a little quiet. He knows how to pick and choose his times. For the most part, he just comes and does his work. A rookie is a rookie. They’re going to be a little bashful, a little quiet and learn their way around. He’s done a good job. He has a great sense of humor and a great demeanor about him. He comes out here and takes command of the huddle. He’s a great guy in the locker room.”
Indications are that Winston is still learning his job. That’s probably a good thing. OTAs, and training camp, are meant for a guy to establish himself. We all know that when the meaningful snaps begin, they will belong to Winston.
“We all understand the fact that we have to go out there and earn our jobs,” Jackson said. “Lovie makes that clear each and every meeting. When we started, he said “Don’t worry about the lineups. There’s a lot of time left before we decide who is going to be on that field.”
Winston seems not to have a problem with being eased in, either.
“Never was given anything in my life,” he said. “The way I was brought up I have to earn everything. The main thing is to earn the respect of these players out there.”
And so it begins. There are some who want to hear every morsel of news about Winston they can. Others seem to prefer to wait until the competition means something.
But those are the stakes. When a team has its chance at its first real quarterback, everyone is on edge. Besides, you have to keep things in perspective. The NFL could be tougher.
“Preparing for this game,” Winston said, “is easier than preparing for a Harvard business degree.”
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