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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs begin life, for now, without QB Jameis Winston

Florida Football Insiders

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Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers have known this day was coming for the last two months. And, now it’s finally here. Quarterback Jameis Winston has begun his three game suspension from the NFL for a personal conduct violation.

So for the first time since 2014, Tampa Bay will begin a season with someone other than Winston under center.

That will go to veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, when next Sunday rolls around at the Superdome in New Orleans. More on that in a moment.

As for Winston, he’s had adversity throughout his college and pro career, including having injured injured his shoulder and missing most or all of five games in 2017. And not coincidentally, the Buccaneers struggled to get any rhythm and finished 5-11.

However, this is different. This is self-inflicted from an incident with inappropriately touching a female Uber driver in March of 2016.

So, Winston has let everyone, and most importantly his teammates, down. He knows that and has owned up to it vowing to be better.

Winston made that clear, again in the locker room after the preseason final game Thursday night:

“I’m going to be working my tail off to get back for Week Four. That’s really all, man. You can’t say anything. It’s a tough situation, so I’m just going to be working my tail off to get back with them.”

When asked about being away from everyone?

“That’s the most challenging part. But I believe in these guys. We’re going to go out there and execute, we’re going to get some wins and I can’t wait to get back.”

That’s the big picture for the future.

In the present, he can have no contact with anyone-coaches or teammates, cannot be at the Buccaneers facility or even at their two home games as a spectator with the champion Eagles and the Steelers on Monday night while this suspension is going on.

And that disconnection is particularly painful, because Winston has been a vocal leader for the Buccaneers since the time that he arrived is the number one overall pick.

Some wonder, if you can ever re-assume that part of a role after a suspension like this?

That remains to be seen.

For now, the team has been turned over to a 14-year veteran who’s on his seventh different NFL team. And, it’s Ryan Fitzpatrick’s job to lead what is a talented offense and try to salvage the first part of the season.

The hope is that the Bucs will be in good shape when Winston reappears on Tuesday September 25th, the morning after their Monday night game.

For now, it’s different, if not weird.

But football is beginning and Jameis Winston will be nowhere to found.

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