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

Roy Cummings



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.

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