For the first time since 1987, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had the No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick and selected former Florida State Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. The area is abuzz with excitement for the Bucs news quarterback, one the fans and the organization hope becomes a franchise quarterback, and can lead the Buccaneers back to the playoffs for the first time since Jon Gruden roamed the sidelines at Raymond James Stadium.
PewterReport.com will chronicle Winston’s practice reports throughout camp. After canceling the fan portion of training camp, the Bucs were able to get their third practice in. Here is the third installment following a day that saw no rain during the afternoon practice. Make sure to check back with PewterReport.com daily for our Winston Report.
Bucs rookie QB Jameis Winston chose a good time on Sunday to have his best camp performance in from of the packed stands at One Buc. On Monday, after the public portion of camp was canceled earlier in the day due to poor driving conditions throughout the Tampa Bay area, Winston wasn’t nearly as sharp as on Sunday, and threw his first interceptions of camp, including a pick-6 in 11-on-11’s.
Still, head coach Lovie Smith found some positives in Winston’s roller coaster day.
“For us, it’s our defense and our offense so I would hope that we’re going to have good offensive days and good defensive days. That’s saying our team is going to be OK. Our goal is to get Jameis ready. We’re doing a lot of things that we don’t normally do this early defensively to get him as many looks as we possibly can. And it was the blitz period where he had his most trouble and that’s how it should be for a young quarterback.”
The areas surrounding the practice fields were holding large puddles from the several inches of rain the facility received since Sunday’s public practice ended, but the fields appeared to be in good shape and daily dry. There were a few slips by players, but no more than during a typical outdoor NFL game. The Bucs began practice at the originally planned 2:30 p.m. start time and started as the first two session, with players working in groups before a stretch period. Winston and the other quarterbacks on the roster spent the first part of practice with QB coach Mike Bajakian doing some drills before the defense joined the offense on the west practice field and in the south end zone.
In this drill the defense gave Winston some different looks and it appeared the purpose of the drill was blitz recognition. The defensive players wore skull caps in two different colors, yellow and green, and proceeded to send players through different holes and even from the edge. Winston went to the line to identify the initial defensive coverage and look for the defense to tips itself off. Winston practiced making the correct calls and looked to be identifying his hot receiver.
After this period the team went to the middle practice field and began 11-on-11’s. This is the period that gave Winston the most trouble. With players in full pads and the offensive and defensive line engaging at 75 percent the pressure in Winston’s face caused the rookie to make some errant throws. Winston’s first pass in the drill actually was a completion to running back Doug Martin. On the next throw, Winston was hurried and threw the ball to nickel back Leonard Johnson who snagged the interception and easily returned it untouched for a simulated score. On his next pass, Winston once again made an errant throw and former Texans second round safety D.J. Swearinger was able to intercept the pass. At that point Glennon took over for his reps and Winston was coached up by the Bucs staff.
Winston got another two sets of reps and seemed to settle down making some nice connections in traffic with Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Donteea Dye. Later in the drill Winston threw another pick, this time to Sterling Moore. Winston finished the drill 4-of-8 with the three mentioned interceptions.
The team then moved back to the west fields where they went into 7-on-7’s. Winston performed much better this period, but granted there was no pass rush. On Winston’s first attempt Seferian-Jenkins got open down the seam and Winston delivered a perfect pass, splitting the dropping linebackers and in front of the safeties, but unfortunately the second-year tight end dropped the ball. Winston was much shaper overall, finishing six-of-11, but with two dropped passes that would have pushed him to a more respectable eight-of-11.
After a water break and a special teams period, the team moved back to 11-on-11’s. This period was mix of run and pass, which helped the quarterbacks as the defense had to respect the possibility of the offense handing the ball off. Winston again was solid, finishing 8-of-12 but with two more drops, one from Dye and one by Mike Evans. But he also threw a ball that safety Keith Tandy should have had for an interception.
From three days of observations it appears Winston is more comfortable with the deeper seam throws, like skinny posts to the receivers and tight ends. Seferain-Jenkins and Winston look to be in synch pretty well and if both stay healthy, this could be a very dangerous combination this year. That should come as no surprise after Winston’s two seasons of starts for the Seminoles and the chemistry he had with tight end Nick O’Leary. It also seems, at least early, Winston and Evans also are getting comfortable with each other. So far Winston hasn’t throw many deep balls, but expect to see more of that, especially having two 6-5 receivers on the outside.
Smith wrapped up Monday’s practice at his press conference on Tuesday once again talking about Winston’s day.
“If our quarterbacks aren’t throwing any interceptions around here, that’s not a good thing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That’s saying our defense is pretty bad. They should be intercepting some of them. So we’ll work with Jameis. Yesterday was a little bit better for him than today but he’ll come back tomorrow.”
Final Stats (unofficial): 18-of-36 (50 percent) with three interceptions PewterReport.com Practice Grade: D
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at email@example.com