QB Winston back from suspension; Bucs face QB quandary

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Jameis Winston returned from the suspended list on Tuesday and landed smack in the center of a quarterback controversy with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

One day after Ryan Fitzpatrick became the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for 400 yards in each of the first three games of a season, Winston is back and the Buccaneers have a decision to make.

Head coach Dirk Koetter said Monday night after Fitzpatrick nearly led the Buccaneers to a comeback in a 30-27 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers that he needs to speak to Winston before sharing his decision.

“Let’s see what the injury report comes back,” Koetter said. “Any time 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. Let’s see what happens. I’d love to get a chance to talk to Jameis face-to-face before I tell the rest of the world.”

Down 30-10 at halftime, the Buccaneers rallied behind Fitzpatrick’s 30-of-50, 411-yard, three-TD showing. He had three interceptions in the first half. Wide receiver Mike Evans took the blame for one of the picks, saying he deviated from the planned route and “tricked Fitz.”

Koetter said Monday that if the Buccaneers decide Fitzpatrick gives the team the best chance to beat the Chicago Bears this week, the 35-year-old will remain the starter. He doesn’t believe Winston would pout if he’s not the No. 1 quarterback this week.

“We love Jameis,” Koetter said. “He’s a member of our team and anxious to get back. He’ll be great in our locker room. And I know Jameis — in whatever role he ends up in — I know Jameis will embrace that role and give it everything he’s got.”

Fitzpatrick said he understands he’s on the roster to do whatever it takes to help the team win. He remains hopeful that means playing, not backing up, quarterback.

“I have so much fun playing this game,” Fitzpatrick said. “I have fun playing with these guys. And I’m here just ready to whatever it takes to win. And I think that will be my mindset going forward.

“I’m happy with the way the first two games went. I’m not happy with the way I turned the ball over (Monday), and I didn’t finish that fourth quarter drive. So there’s a lot of things I could’ve done better.”

–Field Level Media

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