Bucs mum on whether Jameis Winston will start with suspension over
TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can’t avoid questions about Jameis Winston’s return much longer.
The young quarterback’s three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy ended after Monday night’s 30-27 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. It is unclear, however, if he’s coming back as the starter.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has made the decision a lot tougher than expected by throwing for more than 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns in Winston’s absence, including going 30 of 50 for 411 yards and three TDs against the Steelers.
Dirk Koetter repeatedly shrugged off questions about his plans while Winston was away. And now that his return is imminent, the coach is still not saying.
“Let’s see what the injury report (says),” Koetter said Monday night, sidestepping the question once again.
“Anytime we have these games, it’s not always obvious how the guys are going to come in the next day and come in on Wednesday,” the coach added. “Let’s see what happens. I mean, I’d love to get a chance to talk to Jameis face to face before I tell the rest of the world.”
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 353 yards and three touchdowns for the Steelers (1-1-1), who built a 20-point lead and held on for their first win despite not scoring in the second half.
Pittsburgh’s defense forced four first-half turnovers, including three interceptions of Fitzpatrick, the 35-year-old journeyman quarterback who’s led the Bucs to a 2-1 start while throwing for more than 400 yards in each game.
“You know, I have so much fun playing this game. I have fun playing with these guys, and I’m here just ready to do whatever it takes to help the team win,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think that will be my mindset going forward.”
Winston started 45 of 48 games over the first three years of his career. He was suspended following the NFL’s investigation of an accusation that in March 2016 he groped a female Uber driver during a ride in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“We love Jameis. He’s a member of our team, and we’re anxious to get him back,” Koetter said. ” He’ll be great in our locker room and . whatever role that he ends up in, I know Jameis will embrace that role and give it everything’s he got.”