Jameis Winston had his suspension lifted at 12:01 on Tuesday morning and is now back with the Buccaneers, as they prepare to face the Chicago Bears on Sunday. The former #1 overall pick, was the first one in the building, as usual on Tuesday morning. In fact, instead of arriving at 5:45 a.m., Winston showed up at 5:30, ready to work.
Today marked the first time in nearly five weeks that Winston was in front of the media since leaving the team at the end of the preseason. Winston made it clear that he is just excited to be back with the team.
“I think the most important thing is being back in the building. Yesterday was kind of an off day, so I got here at about 5:30 [AM]. Didn’t see a bunch of smiling faces coming in, but today everybody came back energetic and it felt like home. I’m excited to be back,” Winston said.
It was made known on Monday by ESPN reporter Adam Schefter, that Winston predicted this start for Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buccaneers offense. He was asked about it today and gave a very Winston like answer. His main focus was the team as a whole.
“Of course, I practice with him every single day. This guy hasn’t been playing in this league for 14 years for any reason. Plus, when you add the weapons that we have outside when you add our intense – the hardest workers in our building is the offensive line,” Winston said. “When they’re protecting the way that they are, you can do nothing else but to go out there and light it up. I’m excited for Fitz and I’m excited as a whole as a team were playing very good. Like I said, I’m happy to be back in the building and we’ve just got to keep it up.”
While he was away from the team, Winston simulated live practices and ran it like they were Buccaneer practices. Like he stated today, he wasn’t about to let the guys still in the building outwork him while he was away. Give credit when credit is due, Winston took control and did something that many have never seen done before. It speaks volumes to how great he really wants to be. Winston commented on the practices today.
“I did my best impersonation of what it would be like as an in-season schedule being here. I got the guys from Orlando-area. Ft. Lauderdale, Lakeland. Louis Murphy even came out there and threw a couple passes – brought him out of retirement – and we just went to work. I didn’t want the guys in this building to be working hard and I wasn’t out there doing my thing,” Winston said. “After every practice, I catered meals to my teammate just so I could have that team-bonding that I missed here. I feel like we had a pretty good plan together.”
A big concern for many players either injured, or suspended, is coming back in football shape. It’s one thing to hit the weight room and stay active, but it’s another thing to do what Winston did. Coming back, he feels like he hasn’t missed a beat and is feeling great heading into week four.
“ Yeah, I had some coaches come in. I did it like a real thing. I had George Whitefield [Jr.] come in. I had John Beck come in, so I got some individual work. I got my trainer Otis Leverette come in – he’s my personal trainer,” Winston said. “We worked hard. I went to work. Like I said, I couldn’t let these guys out work me even though they had the facilities and everything. I was fine with SkyWay doing our thing out there.”
If Winston does start Sunday, which is not expected, rust won’t be a factor. He’s stayed active, he’s stayed engaged and he’s ready to take over the starting quarterback for this football team moving forward.