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Buccaneers OTA notebook: Winston working his way up

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Jameis Winston No. 1 overall to start at quarterback the first week of the regular season. But during OTAs, he is starting at the bottom.

On Thursday, Winston took snaps with the No. 2 offense while the first-team reps went to third-year pro Mike Glennon.

“Jameis and everybody else have to earn their position,” head coach Lovie Smith said after Thursday’s work. “Jameis is getting his first-team reps. You guys are here on Thursday, and Wednesday he was with the first group then. Don’t look too much into that.

“We just want the guys we think can play to get reps, and we want them to work with a lot of different combinations. Jameis is right on schedule. We’re not disappointed or anything like that in him.”

Winston said he is learning from Glennon and motivated by the competition, but fully understands that he must earn the starting position, regardless of how much the job is his because of where he was drafted.

“I was never given anything in my life, so the way I was brought up, I have to earn everything,” Winston said. “The main thing is to earn the respect of all these players out here.

“Being able to develop a relationship with all the guys is important. So just watching Mike, seeing the things he does, I’m trying to pick up all the things he does because he’s playing great and I try to always compete. So it’s always good to have a great guy in front of you. It helps push you.”

Winston said he is benefiting from watching Glennon and trying to match his production in practice.

“You’re always competing,” Winston said. “When Mike started making good plays, the intensity of the team picks up. When things get rolling, it’s hard to stop.”

Winston also has drawn raves for his work ethic. Smith has indicated that at times they’ve had to kick Winston out of the facility.

“Preparing for this game is easier than preparing for a Harvard business degree,” Winston said. “The thing about it is I love it and I’m going to do everything I can to try to perfect this offense, and this offense is amazing. The concepts are similar to the ones at Florida State, but definitely the terminology is crazy.

“The fun part is getting to throw to all these big-time wide receivers we have. But I’ve got to get better every day. I’m trying to earn a job. I’m trying to earn everybody’s respect.”

Veteran wide receiver Vincent Jackson is impressed by Winston.

“Jameis has done well,” Jackson said. “Everything we’re throwing at him, it’s a new system, it puts a lot on a quarterback and expects them to make plays and make calls at the line of scrimmage and adapt to defenses and he’s handling it well. That’s exciting to see from a young guy with a lot on his plate right away.”

–Smith said there is excitement and optimism about 2015 for the Bucs because of the improved roster and chance to redeem a 2-14 season.

“We get to start over just like everybody else,” Smith said. “Some of the things we feel like we didn’t do well from last year we’re addressing. The talent level is better. We’re going to do a better job of coaching.”

–Wide receiver Mike Evans returned to the practice field this week after overcoming a right hamstring strain. Evans injured the hamstring on the first day of OTAs as a rookie and did not return until training camp.

“My little light injury felt real good and I’m close to 100 percent,” Evans said. “It was a good week of practice for us.”

Evans also is excited about the Bucs’ new offense under Dirk Koetter and his role in it.

“This year, I’m going to move to the X and I like the mismatches I get to put in. I’m always singled and I like being put on an island more and more,” he said.


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