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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs will shut Winston down in effort to start him up on Sunday

Roy Cummings

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Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire

TAMPA – Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston probably won’t throw a football at all at practice on Wednesday. He probably won’t throw too many balls at practice on Thursday either.

The Bucs are hoping, though, that come Sunday, Winston will once again be able to throw a full slate of passes and will start as usual when they take on the Bills in Buffalo.

The Bucs confirmed on Monday that Winston suffered a sprained right AC joint when his throwing shoulder was slammed to the ground during a first-quarter play in the Bucs 38-33 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that Winston is day to day rather than week to week as a result of the injury and that it will more or less be up to Winston to decide whether he plays this week or not.

 “I think it will be more does Jameis feel like he can play at the level he needs to play at,’’ said Bucs coach Dirk Koetter, who added that velocity and power will likely be the determining factors in the matter.

 “We’ll be able to see at some point this week how (the injury) is effecting his velocity, because that was the big thing (that led to) Jameis (saying on Sunday) that he needed to come out.

 “Jameis loves to play and he loves to compete but he just felt like he couldn’t drive the ball down the field the way he needed to. So we’ll just see how these next few days go with his recovery and his treatment.’’

Winston said after the game that he did not expect to miss a start as a result of the injury, but that was before he had an MRI on Monday to determine the true nature of the injury.

Winston, who played two more series after suffering the injury on Sunday, admitted that he was simply in too much pain to continue against the Cardinals but that pain could all be gone by kickoff this Sunday.

“The way I understand it, he will be cleared medically to play,’’ Koetter said. “And I know Jameis can handle a lot of pain. But the No. 1 thing in all of this is Jameis’ long-term health. That has to be the No. 1 thing.’’

 Koetter said the team should have little trouble deciding whether Winston is good enough to go, noting that “it would only be if Jameis feels he can’t get the ball there on time’’ that he would sit out.’’

It’s possible that Winston will dress for this week’s game even if he can’t make all the throws that are normally required of him because the Bucs do not currently have a third quarterback.

Ryan Griffin, who filled that role a year ago, is still on injured reserve and while Griffin is scheduled to return to practice this week he is still not eligible to play in a game.

It is expected then that Ryan Fitzpatrick, who led the Bucs 33-point rally against the Cardinals, will take the bulk of the first-team reps in practice this week and will also be prepared to start if necessary.

With that looming as a possibility, the Bucs will likely put together a game plan that incorporates plays more geared toward Fitzpatrick’s skill set than Winston’s.

Koetter said, however, that Winston will likely get some work in the run-game portion of practice and that the Bucs will be prepared even if it takes until Sunday before they know Winston is ready to play.

 “Jameis likes to take every rep in practice so that’s why you need a backup (like Fitzpatrick) who’s not a developmental guy, a guy who can go in without getting any reps,’’ Koetter said.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs DE Barrett basked in first Pro Bowl appearance Wednesday

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Off the best pass-rushing season in Buccaneers history, potential free-agent defensive end Shaq Barrett was soaking things in Wednesday in Orlando.

That’s where the NFC and AFC top players have congregated for the 2020 Pro Bowl coming Sunday.

Barrett, who set the Buccaneers single-season sack record with 19.5 this past season, ended up being the lone Buccaneer able to play in the game. This, after receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have both had to bow out due to hamstring injuries.

Barrett got props on day one from one from Cardinals DE Chandler Jones, whom he battled for the sack title all the way down to the final Sunday of the season:

Barrett then got to hangout and sign autographs with the fans assembled at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. The sixth year player out of Colorado State, who was originally undrafted but signed with the Broncos in 2014, then told the media, he’s looking for a big-money free-agent deal. And, further, his preference is that he stays in Tampa Bay.

After all, Barrett surpassed anyone’s expectation in 2019, while playing for a modest one-year free agent deal and betting on himself to cash-in. And now, after his agent Drew Rosenhaus and Bucs GM Jason Licht are done, it appears he will be making in the neighborhood of $18-20 million per year just like the top pass rushers in the NFL.

The Bucs also have the possibility of putting the franchise tag for 2020 on Barrett which would also be valued around that same amount for just the one season.

One final cool moment came Wednesday, where Barrett got introduced to a young Buccaneers fan who’s enduring tremendous family hardship with one parent battling cancer and another suffering from the debilitating ALS disease. After signing an autograph for the young man, Barrett gave him the surprise of his young life with two tickets to next weekend’s Super Bowl in Miami:

And just like that fantastic reward, Barrett will soon be similarly rewarded for his fantastic year and upcoming potential. And most likely, it will be in Tampa Bay for a long time.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Evans got respect from LeBron James Saturday night

Florida Football Insiders

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The new present day cliche’ for respect among athletes/opponents in sports is: “Game Recognizes Game.” And, there was a neat example of that Saturday night, as the Houston Rockets of the NBA hosted the L.A. Lakers. That’s when iconic NBA star LeBron James of the Lakers came over to acknowledge Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans in the seats behind him.

As you probably know, James is arguably the most recognizable and successful NBA hoops player worldwide in the last 10+ years. He’s a 15 time All Star, a four time MVP, and helped the Miami Heat win two World Championships. And, then came back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who originally drafted him out of high school, and led them to the city’s epic first professional title in any sport in over 50 years back in 2016.

And, LeBron has the Lakers rolling at 34-8 with another win in Houston last night.

As for Evans, he is a Tampa Bay Buccaneers biggest offensive weapon and was having a tremendous 2019 season statistically until it was cut short with a hamstring injury in the Bucs early December win over the Indianapolis Colts.

That’s when Evans suffered a severe hamstring injury on a 61 yard touchdown catch from Jameis Winston and did not play another down in 2019. Still, he joined teammate Chris Godwin, as they both went over 1,000 yards for the season, which was the first time in Tampa Bay history that that happened.

Evans is also only the second player in league history, besides Randy Moss, to have 1,000 or more yards receiving in a season in his first six years in the NFL.

Further, it’s also well-known that Evan is a huge fan of the NBA and he’s originally from Galveston, Texas and play in college at Texas A&M. So, it’s only fitting that he would be courtside during the off-season and the Rockets game against the Lakers.

Evans has made mention earlier in his career that he had met and talked to LeBron James on previous occasions. One reason that Evans brought that up during the season, was his touchdown celebration dance when Tampa Bay outgunned the L.A. Rams in late September.

In that 48 – 40 win Evans caught this clinching fourth-quarter bomb touchdown from Winston and then, celebrated with LeBron James’s signature dance move

James has previously and frequently used that on the court after a big moment, a big win or a championship.

Again “Game recognizes Game,” and clearly James wanted to give some recognition to the Bucs star whiteout Saturday night courtside at his own game.

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