For the first time in three weeks, Jameis Winston threw a pass in a Wednesday practice. None of them were aimed at Adam Humphries.
Winston, the Buccaneers' third-year quarterback, has not missed a start since entering the NFL – a streak of 39 straight – but he has been managed carefully the past two weeks due to a right shoulder injury suffered in Arizona on October 15. The Bucs limited him to handoffs and mental reps during the first two practices in Weeks Seven and Eight, then let him throw all the first-team passes on each Friday.
That approach seemed to have no ill effect before the game in Buffalo, in which he threw accurately and racked up 384 yards and three touchdowns. Whether or not the injury or the practice regimen factored into a much less successful performance against Carolina seven days later is an open debate. Hopefully, it will soon be a moot point. Having Winston throw on Wednesday is clearly a step forward in his recovery.
A look at the Saints' projected starters, according to the team's website.
Winston is still listed as "limited" on the Buccaneers' injury report, so there's no specific indication of how many passes he threw during the portion of Wednesday's practice that was not open to the media. But Head Coach Dirk Koetter succinctly said that Winston looked "fine," agreeing that this week's Wednesday work was a sign of progress.
"Well, of course," said Koetter on that latter point. "As we've said all along, you'd always rather have your starting quarterback out there taking every rep, so yes."
Humphries did not catch any of Winston's passes because he was sitting out for the first time this year due to a rib injury sustained on Sunday against Carolina. The third-year receiver has only missed one game due to injury in his NFL career, last year in Week 13 due to a concussion. That game, coincidently, was also against the Saints, though it was played in Tampa.
If Humphries is out against New Orleans again this Sunday, it would mean an uptick in playing time for rookie Chris Godwin. Godwin had an impressive training camp but has simply been blocked from extensive playing time because the Bucs are pleased with their first options at X, Z and in the slot. Godwin has essentially cribbed little bits of playing time from each position, resulting in seven catches for 74 yards.
Pictures from the Buccaneers' practice on Wednesday.
"[He's] just real steady – real solid across the board," said Koetter of Godwin. "[He's] a major contributor on special teams and a guy that, because of our depth at wide receiver, he is not getting that many targets. He is down in the pecking order a little bit, but he is doing his best and he's going to be a real good player in this league."
The rest of the Buccaneers' seven-man injury report for Week Nine is comprised of defensive players: defensive tackle Chris Baker (ankle), linebacker Kendell Beckwith (knee), cornerback Brent Grimes (shoulder), cornerback Robert McClain (concussion) and safety Josh Robinson (concussion). McClain and Robinson were both full participants in Wednesday's practice, which could mean they are close to returning from absences of one and three games, respectively. Grimes, however, did not practice on Wednesday.