Jameis Winston expected to start Sunday against Packers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After missing three games and being obviously hampered in a couple of others before that, Jameis Winston may be back under center for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

After initially injuring his throwing shoulder in Week 6, Jameis Winston played in a few more games before having to miss each of the last three full contests. Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Buccaneers to two straight wins before a loss to the Atlanta Falcons last week, but Winston was expected to return at some point before the season was over and reports last weekend pointed to progress being made on that front.

Winston was expected to ramp up his practice activity this week, with a chance he’d prove able to return in Week 13. According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, the 2015 No. 1 overall pick will take all the first-team reps on Wednesday and barring a setback he’ll start Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.

As long as he’s physically able to, it can be assumed Winston wants to play. But the Buccaneers have had a very disappointing season, at 4-7 right now. Playoff contention in the NFC is not realistic, even if they somehow have a five-game winning streak to end the season.

The Buccaneers lost two starting offensive lineman during their Week 12 loss to the Falcons, and center Ali Marpet (knee) and right tackle Demar Dotson (knee) have now both been placed on season-ending IR. So Winston is stepping back into a less than ideal situation, and running back Doug Martin suffering a concussion last week only makes it worse.

But Fitzpatrick is who he is, and a rusty, possibly less than 100 percent Winston is still a better quarterback most of the time. Head coach Dirk Koetter also surely wants to win some games down the stretch, if only to cool off his possible hot seat, and Winston gives that the best chance to happen.

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