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Bucs QB Winston making an impression


The Sports Xchange

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith continues to like what he sees from No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston after the second day of rookie minicamp.

Smith said the former Florida State quarterback still is studying the playbook, but he is eager to learn. Winston signed his rookie, four-year contract — worth $25.35 million, including a $16.7 million signing bonus — the day after the Bucs selected him in the 2015 NFL Draft last week.

“He’s getting better,” Smith said of Winston after Saturday’s practice at One Bucs Place. “As you talk about that starting spot, there’s a lot to learn for all of the rookies, but for the quarterback, that’s a big playbook. He’s cramming like it’s the final exam right now and doing a good job. We’ve seen marked improvement from the moment we gave him his playbook. Jameis is a bright guy. He’ll be able to get it all.”

Winston stayed up until 1 a.m. Friday to familiarize himself with offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter’s playbook. The 21-year-old Winston went to greet his rookie teammates Thursday when they arrived on the bus from the team hotel for that night’s introductory meeting.

“Well, I have to do my best now not to get divorced,” Winston told USA TODAY Sports after Friday’s first day. “It’s a tremendous responsibility. And I’m taking it seriously. I’m just ready to play football. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. I just want to do everything to take advantage of it.”

Smith said Saturday, “That’s one thing you won’t say about him, (that) he’s not focused. He’s into football and trying to get better, that’s who he is. And we definitely saw that today, like we did yesterday.”

Former Buccaneers tight end Jimmie Giles attended Saturday’s practice and other former players have been welcomed back to the facility.

“We have some guys that they just tell us when they’re showing up for practice, they don’t have to call and let us know,” Smith said. “Jimmie of course is one of those — one of our all-time greats (and an) even better person. Whenever we can have guys like that around, it’s a good thing. Shaun King (was here) yesterday. Warren Sapp came through the building the other day. Of course, Derrick (Brooks), all of the guys around. Whenever we can get Ronde Barber back here and if you can get John Lynch to fly down and hang out, we’ll be all in favor of that too.”

Smith was asked about the ACL injury suffered by Jacksonville Jaguars first-round defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., who was injured during 11-on-11 drills on the first day of the team’s rookie minicamp Friday. He will miss the 2015 season.

“It’s tough, as you mention, to go right in to really what is Phase Three of our workouts for us,” Smith said. “Guys are trying to make the team on one weekend. I think injuries are just a part of our game too. I kind of watched it briefly, I saw the play, but I noticed some things happen like that, you just try to guard against them as much as possible. We try not to do a lot of team-work. Seven-on-seven is about the most we’ll do, trying to not get as many bodies in there. Eventually, you’re going to get 11-on-11 and you just hope that major injuries don’t happen.”

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