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Winston hits rocky road as Bucs’ quarterback

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The Sports Xchange

TAMPA — Quarterback Jameis Winston’s up and down preseason took another dip Saturday against the Cleveland Browns. Five days after a mostly flawless performance in a win over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers No. 1 overall pick was sacked four times, threw an interception, blew some protection calls against the blitz and failed to see the field well in a 31-7 loss to the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. Winston finished 6-of-15 passing for 90 yards and the interception.

It was as disjointed of a performance as you can imagine for Winston, who proved he may not be ready to tear the NFL up as a rookie. And since Winston isn’t expected to play in the preseason finale at Miami Thursday, he won’t have any game time to correct it before the Sept. 13 regular-season opener against the Tennessee Titans.

Winston likely will finish the preseason with no touchdown passes (he ran for two scores) and a 52.7 passer rating.

To be fair, Winston spent the night with Browns defenders in his facemask. The Bucs have allowed 13 sacks, the most of any NFL team in the preseason. Winston has been dropped seven times, tying for the most in the league.

“We had some bad plays last night, yes, along our offensive line,” head coach Lovie Smith said Sunday. “It’s like that most games, though. You have some plays you’d like to have back. Good plays on their part. Looking at the overall picture, just like before when we played a lot better, you take everything in, which we will do. But that play last night, for the most part, was unacceptable for us and we’ll fix it.”

The pressure on Winston also is the byproduct of having two rookie offensive linemen — Penn State tackle Donovan Smith and right guard Ali Marpet, a second-round pick from Division III Hobart College on the field.

“I’ve got to get the ball out faster. They brought a lot of pressure,” Winston said. “I’ve got another thing to learn from, from a blitz protection standpoint. I’ve got to see things and get us in the right protection call. Obviously, they came with a different game plan than we expected.”

Overall, Smith said he is pleased with how Winston has played during the preseason.

“I like what he’s done throughout the games, but (Saturday), he was part of a bad effort that we had as a football team,” Smith said. “There’s not much we did well tonight, Jameis or any other position you bring up – coaching, all of it.”


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