TAMPA – The Texans and Rams were among the handful of NFL teams that cancelled the last day of mini-camp workouts on Thursday. The Bucs were not and you get the feeling that’s exactly how quarterback Jameis Winston wanted it.
Even after Bucs coach Dirk Koetter scrapped the last half-hour or so of the Bucs final workout as a reward for the hard work the team had put in up to that point, Winston stayed on the field Thursday working just a little longer than most everyone else.
That’s Winston, though. Now on the brink of entering his third year in the league, he continues to have a work ethic that stretches far beyond exemplary, to the point where sometimes you have to wonder if he has an off switch at all.
“Yeah, we called practice early (on Thursday) and Jameis was the one guy in the huddle who wanted to keep going,’’ said Koetter, who has come to understand that what keeps Winston going in situations like that is a true desire to be the best.
Koetter said Winston knows now that he can play a winning brand of football at the NFL level, but he believes Winston has long been continues to be driven by a much higher calling.
“He’s aiming to be elite, not just one of 32,’’ Koetter said. “And because he has such high expectations – and we have high expectations – it’s a never-ending process for him. I mean, we’re hard on Jameis and he’s hard on himself.’’
That was evident on Thursday. After he missed a few throws the Bucs are anxious for him to start making more of during a red-zone drill, what Winston stuck around on the field to do was work on those very throws he missed during practice.
Winston also continues to work on improving his accuracy and timing in an effort to not just set up his receivers better, but eliminate errant throws that can be picked off cleanly or tipped by the receiver and picked off that way.
In that effort, Koetter said, Winston is making good progress, but it’s not just Koetter who has noticed. Teammates, old and new, say they continue to see characteristics in Winston that truly rare indeed.
“I’ve been around some great quarterbacks in my time, and Jameis is special,’’ wide receiver DeSean Jackson said. “Young cat – young and enthusiastic. He comes out and works hard and he asks us to do the same.
“And whatever he gives, he wants that to be given throughout the team, so that’s a great characteristic to have in a quarterback that is going to be accountable. He’s going to be here and he’s going to be very vocal. And he gives out what he wants back in.’’
Bucs fans have known about these traits for a while now, but it’s interesting that even after two-plus years in the league, Winston can still impress coaches and players with his work ethic, drive and desire.
This is another reason why the Bucs are actually kind of happy that the camera crews of HBO’s Hard Knocks will be invading their training camp in a few weeks.
There’s a Jameis Winston that the casual fan has yet to discover and Hard Knocks should help them discover that player and just how special he really is.