Pictures from the Bucs' training camp practice on Satuday.
Two early turnovers and a comeback bid that fell just short sent the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 17-9 loss to Philadelphia in their 2016 preseason opener. It wasn't the ideal start to the exhibition slate, but it wasn't exactly devastating. Since preseason wins and losses ultimately mean very little, it's easier in August to focus on the positives in defeat, such as the Buccaneers' obviously improved pass rush.
Second-year quarterback Jameis Winston, however, is a little too competitive to swallow any loss easily, even one in the preseason. After the game, he spoke on the Buccaneers' Radio Network about his efforts to help the team adopt a "hate to lose" mentality. On Saturday, after the Buccaneers' returned to the practice field, addressed that topic again, clarifying that it was a team-wide attitude he was trying to promote and not a criticism of the drive of any specific teammate.
"It's a mentality that you've got to have, and it's an easy choice," said Winston. "It's a choice; you've got to want to win. As a team, we have to make that choice together. I'm not saying just because I want to win doesn't mean that someone else wants to win, I'm saying all of us have to be together and be on the same page because if we're on the same page and we have the same common goal, the same focus, we're going to win a lot of football games."
Winston isn't the only one pushing for this team-wide approach; he's getting plenty of help, for instance, from one of the team's newcomers on defense. Defensive end Robert Ayers, one of the Bucs' most important additions in free agency, has spoken about the many things that drive him to maximum effort on the field, and now his new teammates have had a chance to see how that manifests on an actual game day.
"Passion on that defensive side of the ball…there's some players that you play against, they bring it every single play," said Winston. "And you can tell as a veteran, he's brought that 'every single play I'm going full speed' mentality to that defensive side of the ball. You see Robert Ayers go out there, make a what-would-be-called-a-sack on me [in practice], but they still let us throw, and then the next play it's a competitive atmosphere. Now Gerald [McCoy] is like, 'Man, I'm going to get a sack because I'm not going to let Robert Ayers outdo me out here. I'm the best player on this team.' And then Gerald goes out and makes two plays in a row, then you see Clinton McDonald like, 'Hold on, now everybody else making plays, I've got to go and make me a play.' And that's what Robert brings to this team, and that goes back to that winning mentality."
No matter how much help he gets from passionate teammates like Ayers, however, Winston is still going to take it upon himself to lead the way.
"When you've got people competing and you see that your leaders are competing, that's why I'm the one that says we've got to have that winning mentality because I've got to be the one to start off," he said. "My body language has to remain consistent, I have to be that image that they look at. Like even if they're looking down like, 'Jameis still wants to win, shoot I want to win too.'"