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Bucs QB Winston ready to turn page

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Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston wasn’t ready to put to bed the poor performance in his NFL debut last Sunday in a 42-14 loss to Marcus Mariota and the Titans.

So he turned on the film to determine what went so horribly wrong.

“I stayed up until probably about 2 o’clock (in the morning),” Winston said. “Just trying to see what went wrong. I was trying to get every excuse just to put that one behind me, but it hurt. The sun did rise the next day and I was back out there playing football.”

Mariota threw four touchdown passes in the first half and was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week. He also landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Winston and the Bucs will be looking for improvement when they play the Saints at the Superdome in New Orleans at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Both teams lost their season openers. The Saints fell to the Cardinals 31-19 as Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer threw three touchdown passes.

The Saints struggled last week finishing drives, scoring only one touchdown. But like the Bucs, their biggest disappointment might have been the defense, particularly their secondary.

The Saints lost five games at the Superdome last season.

“Historically, we’ve been good here,” New Orleans coach Sean Payton coach. “But I would say this: last year, we weren’t. It’s still about playing smart football, taking care of the football, fundamentally doing all the things that keep you from – preventing yourself from doing the things that keep you from winning games. In this series, where over time in the dome and then a last-possession-type game, I mean, in our time here, it’s been a field goal, it’s been a real close-fought series and a close-fought game year-in and year-out, the two of them.

“Typically in the division, teams have a feel for what they’re going to get when they’re on the road or what it’s going to be like to be at home and I think here’s a game where you have two teams that opened the season with a loss and both will be fighting hard to get their first win.”

Winston, whose only loss prior to Sunday came at Florida State to Mariota and Oregon in the Rose Bowl last January, did not get any back pats from offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.

“So what does Jameis need to get better at? Quarterbacks have to make great decisions,” Koetter said Wednesday. “When they don’t, bad things can happen. And when quarterbacks don’t make good throws, bad things can happen there, too. So those are two examples of plays that hurt us that Jameis has got to do better at.”

Winston finished 16 of 33 for 210 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He was sacked four times.

So what did he learn from the film that will help him Sunday in New Orleans?

“Just the early turnover,” Winston said. “You’ve always got that would’ve, could’ve, should’ve syndrome. But the early turnover just hurt. You know, you learn from it and you move on. Just a bad decision. A very bad decision. You make those sometimes. You just can’t make them again.”

In some ways, Winston said, he’s fortunate the poor performance came in the season opener. Not only is there 15 games remaining, but he said he will learn more quickly from his mistakes.

“It’s a very humbling experience because the game could’ve gone either way,” Winston said. “If I had had a great game, people would’ve wondered, ‘How is he going to handle his bad game when it comes?’ I got it out of the way. It’s no laughing matter but it happened fast. I was not expecting it to happen that fast but it happened. So as a young man, as the quarterback of this program, I’ve got to grow up and try not to live this experience again.”

Meanwhile the Bucs’ defense had too many breakdowns. Their linebackers were too easily sucked up by play-action and they rarely were in position to contest passes.

Of course, Winston is not the only rookie quarterback to struggle in his debut. Payton, who attended Florida State’s pro day and visited with the Bucs rookie at the NFL scouting combine, believes Winston will bounce back.

“He’s one in a long line of young quarterbacks who didn’t have things go exactly as he wanted them to,” Payton said. “But he’s got that resiliency and toughness about him that’s right for his team.”

SERIES HISTORY: 47th regular-season meeting. The Saints lead the series 29-17. New Orleans has won the last seven games, including a 37-31 overtime win at the Superdome last season.

PLAYER NOTES

–WR Mike Evans (hamstring) returned to practice and had full participation Wednesday. Evans did not play in the season opener against the Titans.

–LB Bruce Carter has a rib injury he suffered on the opening kickoff against the Titans but returned to practice Wednesday. He had limited participation.

–LB Danny Lansanah has an ankle injury and did not practice Wednesday.

–S Major Wright has an abdominal injury and did not practice Wednesday. If Wright is unable to play, S Chris Conte would take his place vs. the Saints.

–CB Mike Jenkins, who did not play in the season opener versus the Titans due to an ankle injury, returned to practice on a limited basis.

–DE T.J. Fatinikun has a shoulder injury that kept him out of Sunday’s game against the Titans. He did not practice Wednesday.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

–Bucs WR Mike Evans vs. Saints CB Brandon Browner. Evans, at 6-5, creates matchup problems for most starting cornerbacks. But Browner is 6-4 and signed to handle the physical receivers in the NFC South.

–Saints RB C.J. Spiller vs. Bucs LB Kwon Alexander. Spiller gives the Saints some speed in the backfield and the ability to make the offense more balanced. Brees attempted 48 passes last Sunday in a loss to the Cardinals. Alexander is a rookie who has to be a big run stopper.


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