Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mutual Respect Between Winston, Mariota

For the first time in NFL history, quarterbacks drafted No. 1 and No. 2 will meet in their first professional game.


Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota know that they won't necessarily play against each other and that Sunday's game between the Buccaneers and Titans is much more than the No. 1 draft pick against the player selected second. But there's no denying that the two will be linked for quite some time and that their matchup in Week 1 is one of the NFL's featured storylines heading into the regular season.

Meeting with members of the media this week, both Winston and Mariota said that this week's game was far more complex than their individual matchup.    

"I just focus on playing the best game," Winston said. "Of course the attention and stuff is going to be on two people, but me and him both know that it's about the locker room."

Mariota echoed a similar sentiment.

"I think people will continue to debate 'One or Two,' if it's really important to Jameis and I," the Titans quarterback said. "I think, for us, we're just really focused on doing our best with our teams and focused on what we have to take care of. It doesn't matter who the opponent is, we just want to focus on what our objectives are as an offense and move forward."

With speculation that the quarterbacks could go No. 1 and 2, Winston and Mariota crossed paths several times leading up to the draft. The two went as far as training together in California to prepare for the NFL Scouting Combine. Through their time together, the former Heisman Trophy-winners have grown to respect each other's game.

"We actually worked out together in San Diego, before the pre-combine process and before the draft, so I got to know him a little bit," Mariota said. "He was one of those guys that was a hard-working guy, did everything that was asked of him and really kind of pushed everyone around him."

Winston spoke just as highly of Mariota.

"When I view Marcus, he's just a great guy," he added. "We don't really talk that much, but it's like two horses at the racetrack. When the alpha sees another alpha, they just [horse noise] and they go on about their business. He's just a great person and you can't take anything away from him."

Both players will take the field on Sunday looking for their first professional victories. The game will mark the first time in NFL history that quarterbacks drafted first and second overall have met in Week 1 of the regular season.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.