Winston says early meeting with Arians motivated him
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Jameis Winston traces his motivation to win an NFL championship all the way back to when he attended a football camp at age 11 or 12 and Bruce Arians was there.
''At the camp he brought his Pittsburgh Steelers (Super Bowl) ring and showed all of us,'' Winston said, ''and that was one of the first times when I was just like, `Man, I want to get me one of those rings.'''
Arians has two of those rings from his years as an assistant coach with the Steelers. His quest to win one as a head coach hit a speed bump when his Arizona Cardinals lost their season opener at home against the New England Patriots 23-21.
Now he must face Winston's Tampa Bay Buccaneers , with the second-year quarterback coming off one of his best games in a 31-24 season-opening win at Atlanta.
Winston completed 23 of 33 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns, a performance that earned NFC offensive player of the week honors. His 122.6 passer rating was third best on opening weekend, behind Drew Brees (131.3) and Matthew Stafford (128.6).
Back at that camp, even at such a young age, Winston made an impression.
''Just a tremendous athlete,'' Arians said. ''A very bright guy, but with a cannon for an arm. He was probably throwing 90 miles an hour fastballs back then in the ninth, 10th grade.''
So the Cardinals are well aware of the young player's talent, and of the talent the up-and-coming Buccaneers have around him, including running back Doug Martin and wide receiver Mike Evans.
''The Buccaneers are a physical football team,'' Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu said. ''They're going to run the ball down our throat, and we feel like they have a really good quarterback that can make every throw. We're going to get challenged up front and on the back end.''
Some things to consider when the Buccaneers face the Cardinals on Sunday.
RETURN TO THE DESERT: Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter knows the Arizona desert all too well. The Bucs' first-year coach was head coach at Arizona State from 2001-2006, compiling a 40-34 record over six seasons. He was fired at the end of the regular season, but was allowed to coach the Sun Devils in the Hawaii Bowl, where they lost to Hawaii to finish his final season there at 7-6.
What are his memories of those days?
''Distant,'' Koetter said. ''It's been 10 years.
''Obviously, everywhere you work you come across some awesome people and have a lot of appreciation for the players, the coaches, the people that worked with us there. Ultimately, under my regime, we didn't get it done. That was 10 years ago and now it's a different time.''
The year after Koetter left, the Sun Devils went 10-3 and tied for the Pac-12 title under Dennis Erickson with a team composed mostly of Koetter's players.
DEFENSE DILEMMA: Often last season, the Cardinals put All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson on an opponent's best receiver the entire game, a tactic that worked well.
But Arizona did not play that way against New England, using a lot of zone to help out rookie cornerback Brandon Williams, who still struggled. So don't expect to see Peterson exclusively on Evans on Sunday.
''We'll see,'' Arians said. ''They have two good ones (Evans and Vincent Jackson) and they're both tall. We'll see if we want to match up or we'll see if we want to just play sides.''
IN SHAPE: Winston credits a trip to the Pro Bowl as a rookie last season for his newly sculpted physique.
''I saw Julio Jones walking around, Julius Peppers, all those guys like that,'' he said. ''I was like, `Yep, it's time for me to hit the weight room.' ''
But Koetter said it's incorrect to say Winston lost weight.
''That whole dropped-the-weight thing is blown a little bit out of proportion,'' Koetter said. ''... He's still a 230-pound quarterback. He just redistributed his body. `'
GROUND ADVANTAGE: Two of the top young, versatile running backs in the NFL will be on display at University of Phoenix Stadium. Both Tampa Bay's Martin and Arizona's David Johnson are threats not only carrying the ball but catching it.
In the season opener, Martin rushed for 62 yards on 18 carries and caught five passes for 34 yards. Johnson gained 89 yards on 16 attempts and caught four for 43 yards.
THIRD DOWNS: The Buccaneers and Cardinals had the opposite results in third-down defense last Sunday. Atlanta was 3 of 13 against Tampa Bay. New England was 10 of 16 against the Cardinals.
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