Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston throws during drills at an NFL rookie minicamp in Tampa, Fla., Friday, May 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Wilfredo Lee
May 08, 2015

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Jameis Winston stayed up late the previous night, studying the playbook and preparing for his first real day on the job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The No. 1 overall draft pick arrived early Friday for the start of rookie minicamp. He stood outside One Buccaneer Place to greet a bus carrying other first-year players vying for an opportunity to help the young quarterback transform a last-place team into playoff contenders.

''I was excited. I wanted to get everyone else involved and excited,'' the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner said following a two-hour practice, his first since being selected in the NFL draft and signing a four-year, $23.35 million contract.

''I got a couple of smiles coming off the bus. And that's all it takes, just to show those guys I'm here, I'm ready, and just make sure they're ready also,'' the former Florida State star said. ''And, they were. I think as a whole, we had a good day.''

Winston's new teammates appreciated the gesture.

''Jameis is Jameis,'' said Donovan Smith, one of two offensive lineman the Bucs drafted in the second round. ''He makes light of every situation and makes you feel comfortable. As a quarterback, that's his job.''

Like the rest of the rookies, Winston wore a helmet with his name taped on the front, as well as the back - not that it was difficult to keep track of the 6-foot-4, 230 pound Winston on the field.

The top draft pick joined Northern Colorado's Seth Lobato, the other QB participating in the weekend minicamp, in wearing orange practice jerseys instead of white donned by other offensive players, or red worn by the defense.

They alternated taking snaps for passing drills during the portion of practice open to the media.

Predictably, Winston looked sharp on some throws, and not so good on others, while working with a group of young receivers also hoping to make a good first impression.

''I thought he had a typical first day. There were some balls he'd like to have back, but we also saw a lot of good things that he did,'' coach Lovie Smith said. ''There's a lot for any rookie to learn coming in.''

Winston agreed.

''I'm not going to judge myself on Day 1,'' he said. ''You've got to get better every day. ... I'm just blessed to have this opportunity to be out here with these guys.''

The Bucs ranked 29th in scoring and 30th in total offense while going 2-14 last season. Last year's starting quarterback, Josh McCown, was released, paving the way for Winston - 26-1 as the starter at Florida State - to take over right away.

The rookie stayed up until 1 a.m. Thursday night studying the playbook, eager to set the tone for the rest of the newcomers.

''I've got do what I got to do when I got to do it,'' Winston said.

That didn't surprise Smith, who feels the quarterback is a natural leader.

''That's what makes him special. There are a lot of guys - rookies - staying up in the playbook right now. They all need to do that,'' the coach said.

''But most of the stuff Jameis does is unscripted. No one told him to greet his teammates. That's kind of who he is a little bit,'' Smith added. ''He's a positive guy. I'm not going to have to give him a pep talk every day on he can play football or anything like that. But that is part of what we like about him.''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

You May Like