Part of the reason so many young wide receivers have emerged at Buccaneers training camp has been due to Jameis Winston’s knack for spreading the ball around.
Gifted with two elite wide receivers (Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson) and a promising tight end in Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Winston has still managed to survey the field during scrimmage and involve numerous players in the passing game. And for the Buccaneers, that was their plan from the start – for Winston to gain confidence and command of the system while building good rapport with all his teammates, not just the starters.
“That’s what we brought him in here to do,” said head coach Lovie Smith. “We talk about improvement from a lot of guys and we’ve seen that from Jameis. (He’s getting) more and more comfortable. As a rookie in general it’s about being out there getting as many reps as you possibly can right now. That’s what he is doing – working with different people. Working with the guys also that he’ll be throwing to this year.”
Aside from building chemistry with his receivers, Winston has been a dedicated student in camp as well. The rookie quarterback, who will take the field for the first time Saturday, spends significant time in between reps and after practice with Dirk Koetter and position coach Mike Bajakian, getting accustomed to the offense.
“There is an awful lot that goes into what we are asking him to do and he is picking it up,” Smith said. “(Quarterbacks Coach) Mike Bajakian is doing a super job with him. Of course (Offensive Coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). We want to have flexibility with our offense and be balanced. Part of that balancing in the passing game is spreading it around.”
Following Tuesday’s practice Bajakian spoke about Winston. While he said the rookie quarterback is by no means a finished product, he’s noticed growth in multiple areas and a better command of the huddle.
“I can’t say there’s one particular area; he’s done a great job,” Bajakian said. “Whether it’s his drop technique or his anticipation, his command presence in the huddle, his communication at the line of scrimmage, like I said, there has been great progress in all of those areas. If you’re sitting in the stands watching you might not be able to see that, when he stands in the huddle and decisively calls a play, and executes the checks at the line of scrimmage. He’s making great progress both mentally and physically and now obviously, we just need to take those things into the game.”
Just last week Smith stressed the importance of being a physical, running team, however it doesn’t appear the Bucs will limit Winston while trying to develop the rookie signal caller from Day 1. And the first taste of game action is less than a week away.
“It’s his first NFL snap in a game, and he’s excited,” Bajakian said. “It’s his first time in a Bucs game uniform. There’s definitely a level of intensity and the anxiousness that goes along with playing your first game at the NFL level it’s a dream that every boy has, and he’s excited for the game.”