The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have now won three in a row and are looking for their fourth consecutive win during their last road trip of the year to Detroit. A host of injuries will make that a little more difficult. Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich spoke on injuries to Jameis Winston and Mike Evans and how they're likely to affect the offense during his weekly Thursday press conference. He also touched on a number of other topics, including:
1. Jameis Winston is progressing in dealing with his thumb injury.
Quarterback Jameis Winston came out of the game for the first time all season last Sunday against the Colts. Late in the first half, he injured his thumb on the helmet of an Indianapolis defender and was forced out of action for a series. He would end up finishing the game.
This week, both Head Coach Bruce Arians and now Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich say the plan is for Winston to be the starter in Detroit. Leftwich was asked how he sees Winston progressing on Thursday after a second day of practice where Winston was limited.
"He's getting there," Leftwich said. "He's doing what he can and doing what the doctors are telling him to do. He's working and doing what he can to get himself prepared."
2. Winston knows what he's doing, even with limited reps.
After not throwing at all on Wednesday, Winston was seen with a tennis ball at practice on Thursday. He threw that with ease during individual drills. But most of his reps came in the form of mental ones, being officially listed as limited on the injury report. Leftwich, understanding that situation from being a quarterback in the league himself, said that everyone has to go through that at some point or another and his concern for Winston is minimal.
"Well he knows what he's doing," Leftwich said of Winston's reps being limited and potentially not throwing the ball until Friday. "It's nothing new. He knows everything that he's doing. Like you said, he's a fifth-year guy, so he's been through this situation before. Just about every quarterback at some point gets to this position at some point, where you can't get the guy onto the practice field until Friday. Nothing different. We're just making sure he's doing everything that he needs to do to try to prepare, to make sure it's as normal as possible. That's all you can really do and he's doing a heck of a job of that."
3. Whoever ends up throwing on Sunday will have a lot of receivers to throw to.
The Bucs spread the ball around to nine different receivers before the first half was over last Sunday. No single receiver got over 100 yards on the day, yet Winston threw for a career-high 456 yards. Even with wide receiver Mike Evans going down with a hamstring injury that will shut him down for the rest of the 2019 season, Leftwich feels good about the guys in the room who will step up. The depth at receiver is something he's known the Bucs to have all along.
"It's kind of what I've been saying all year," said Leftwich. "We trust these guys. We see these guys play these plays all the time, so when it doesn't happen one week, you [still] know that it's there. Like I tell you guys, the ball might not go that way because Mike [Evans] may have had 196-yard day. Chris may have one of those big days that [he's] had throughout the year. When you have those type of days from a single guy, it's hard to really spread it around because you're not throwing for six or seven hundred yards in a game. Now the ball naturally spreads itself around. I always tell you guys this: we want it to happen organically. We want to go through our progressions and get the ball in the right spot and Jameis [Winston] did a good job of that."