Winston: ‘I’m here to assist the best way I possibly can’

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston warms up before a game against the Detroit Lions at Raymond James Stadium on Aug. 24.Photo Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Sports Xchange

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston said he’s willing to help the team in any capacity in his first public comments following the conclusion of his three-game suspension.

Winston also said on Wednesday that he’s excited for the success of the Buccaneers (2-1) thus far with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm.

The 24-year-old Winston took the podium on Wednesday and asked reporters, “Did you miss me?”

On a more serious note, Winston said that he wanted to enjoy being back with the team rather than address the future of the Buccaneers’ quarterback situation.

“I’m here to assist the best way I possibly can … It’s about the team’s success,” Winston said. “I’m not a selfish player. We’re out here doing big things and we’ve got to continue doing that.”

Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter cited competitive advantages on Tuesday for his reasoning against publicly naming a starting quarterback for the team’s game versus the Chicago Bears (2-1) this weekend. He did say that Winston and Fitzpatrick know which one will start on Sunday.

“I know there’s a lot of interest in the quarterback thing, and I did talk to both Jameis and Fitz, and it’s great to see Jameis back in the building,” Koetter said Tuesday. “He was here early and working hard. Welcomed Jameis back, we’re glad to have him, and short week, and he assured me he was ready to go, which I don’t doubt for a minute that he’s been working hard.

“So we know what we’re going to do, both guys know what we’re going to do, and I hope everybody can appreciate it doesn’t do us any good to tell our opponents what we’re going to do, so that’ll work itself out as the week goes on, but we do have a plan and both guys are aware of it.”

Winston has been the starter the past three seasons after being the No. 1 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. And he would have begun this season as the starter if he had not been suspended for the first three games by the NFL for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

But Fitzpatrick had been outstanding in Winston’s absence. The 35-year-old was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week following both of the Bucs’ victories in their first two games, and led a comeback attempt that fell just short in Monday’s 30-27 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He did throw three interceptions versus the Steelers, however.

Fitzpatrick still leads the NFL in passing yards per game (410.0) and is second behind Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes in both touchdowns passes (11) and passer rating (124.8).

“I’ve seen the beards, but when the guy throws for 400 yards three games in a row, you got to love that,” Winston said. “And as a community, we got to get behind this team because when we’re winning, when things are going good, we got to capitalize on that.

“I’m just happy to be back, man, like I’m happy that now I can be a part of that. I’m not watching from a distance. I can be here with my teammates.”