Jameis Winston has thrown 512 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 516 passes through 13 games in 2019, which is more than any other quarterback in the league other than Tom Brady. Winston didn't throw a single football in Wednesday's practice, however.
The saga of Winston's injured right thumb gained a little clarity on Wednesday afternoon but does not look like it's close to being resolved. Head Coach Bruce Arians is hopeful that his starting quarterback will be throwing again by next Sunday, when the Buccaneers take on the Lions in Detroit, but that's not a certainty yet.
"That's the plan," said Arians of Winston playing against the Lions. "We'll see how it goes."
Winston injured the thumb on his throwing hand near the end of the first half of the Buccaneers' 38-35 Week 14 win over Indianapolis. He came out of the locker room unaware that his throwing hand was going to be a problem until he had difficulty gripping the football right before the third quarter began. Ryan Griffin directed the Bucs' first series of the second half as Winston went back inside to get an X-ray on his thumb.
Winston did return to the game and actually threw extremely well in leading his team on a 17-point comeback for the victory. On Monday, he saw a hand specialist due to continued swelling in the thumb area. On Wednesday, Winston participated in practice to the extent that he could without handling the football, which could work out well in the long run.
"Yeah, I think sometimes it's good to give your arm a rest, but not your brain," said Arians. "So he's out there taking a drop on every play, telling me where the coverage was, where the ball should have gone. So he got a good mental practice and it might help him physically."
Still, the Buccaneers will need to know if Winston can throw the ball before they put him on the field against the Lions. Arians said he would be concerned about putting a quarterback on the field without any practice during the week at all.
"Oh definitely, definitely," he said. "He'll throw before we get there."
So Winston will throw at some point, and if it goes well he'll almost certainly be the starter on Sunday. If he struggles, the team could turn to veteran backup Ryan Griffin, who actually saw his first regular-season action on Sunday, completing two of four passes for 18 yards. Arians said that Griffin looks poised and would expect him to be the same way in a full game.
"[It's] like he's never missed a beat, like he's been a starter all year," said the coach. "That's just him. He's a very bright guy, he's extremely accurate, it was a very fast-tempo practice – we really didn't miss anything. I think we all have a ton of confidence in him."
* All season, Shaquil Barrett has been inexorably chasing down Warren Sapp's franchise record for sacks in a single season. Barrett has recorded at least a half-sack in 10 of the Buccaneers' 13 games, including each of the last three as he's drawn within shouting distance of the 16.5 sacks Sapp recorded in 2000.
Now Barrett has taken yet another step toward breaking the record…on a Wednesday.
In last Sunday's 38-35 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, the Buccaneers defense sacked Jacoby Brissett just once, about two minutes into the second half. At the time, the credit for the sack was split between Barrett and Will Gholston. That half-sack gave Barrett 15.0 on the season, tied for the third-most in Buccaneers history. However, every game is reviewed early in the week by the Elias Sports Bureau, and the NFL puts out a list of statistical changes every Wednesday.
Most of these are very minor, such as a player being credited with an assist rather than a full tackle or a penalty being correctly attributed to the offending player. This week, though, the Buccaneers were notified of a change that moves the needle: That sack in Sunday's win over the Colts is now credited fully to Barrett.
As such, Barrett is now just one behind Sapp's 2000 total. Here's the top five single-season sack totals in franchise history:
1. Warren Sapp, 2000: 16.5
2t. Shaquil Barrett, 2019: 15.5
2t. Simeon Rice, 2002: 15.5
4. Simeon Rice, 2003: 15.0
5. Simeon Rice, 2005: 14.0
Sapp has been supportive of Barrett's chase and has said he would like to be on hand when and if the record is broken, potentially at the Bucs' home games in Weeks 16 and 17. That may be too late, though. If Barrett gets 1.5 sacks on Sunday in Detroit he'll have the record before he even comes home.
* As expected, Mike Evans did not practice to start the week and it appears very unlikely he'll play on Sunday in Detroit. But the Buccaneers had plenty of pass-catchers for their quarterbacks on Wednesday.
One of those was a newcomer, rookie Trevion Thompson, who just signed to the practice squad that morning. Thompson took the spot of wide receiver Ishmael Hyman, who was promoted to the active roster following the injury to Evans. Thompson originally entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Los Angeles Chargers this past spring, though an undisclosed injury kept him from making it to training camp. He subsequently had tryouts with three teams before signing with the Buccaneers.
The 6-2, 202-pound Thompson played four seasons at Clemson, recording 53 catches for 506 yards and two touchdowns. He was a member of two FBS championship teams.
The Buccaneers also got some practice work from rookie wideout Scotty Miller, albeit limited, for the first time in two weeks. Miller has missed two games due to a hamstring injury he suffered in practice on November 27. It won't be easy for Tampa Bay's offense to replace the production usually provided by Evans, but at least the team has a chance to head to Detroit with a group of five healthy receivers. If Miller can play, he would join Hyman, Chris Godwin, Breshad Perriman and Justin Watson.