Kwon Alexander got a chance to face his former team on Sunday when his San Francisco 49ers took on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the veteran did not make it through the first quarter because of an ill-advised play.
Jameis Winston ran for a first down early in the game and went into a slide, but Alexander hit him anyway. Not only did the hit appear late, but Alexander clearly led with his helmet and made helmet-to-helmet contact with Winston. He was penalized 15 yards and ejected.
Kwon Alexander ejected. pic.twitter.com/4zAXos77fj
— Melissa Jacobs (@thefootballgirl) September 8, 2019
The NFL has made an effort to crack down on plays like that, and players are now subject to an immediate ejection for a first offense the same way they are at the collegiate level. Alexander may have been playing with a little added motivation as a former Buc, but that play is going to result in an ejection every time.
Week 1 featured multiple ejections across the NFL, with Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack also getting tossed from an earlier game for throwing a swing at an opponent. Jack basically had to be dragged off the field after he was forced to leave.
Alexander, a fourth-round pick in 2014, spent the first four years of his career in Tampa before signing a four-year, $54 million deal with the 49ers this past offseason.
Training camps across the NFL are well underway and the battles are beginning to play out. There are many reasons to pay attention to what happens on the practice field. There can be significant injuries, players who are surprising, others who don’t look sharp, and those who are putting their stamp on a job. There are also comeback stories and players to watch for a whole host of reasons.
Here are ten players whose training camp performance bears watching closely.
Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
After missing all of the 2017 season with a shoulder injury, Andrew Luck returned in 2018 and put on a show. He bounced back with 39 touchdown passes and a career-best 430 completions and 67.3 completion percentage while leading the Colts to a 10-6 record and playoff appearance. Everything looked good for 2019, but now Luck is dealing with a calf injury that has kept him out of minicamp and the start of training camp. The Colts better hope Luck is healthy in time for Week 1. If not, it would be Jacoby Brissett time.
Jameis Winston has made a number of questionable decisions off the field dating back to his days as a star quarterback at Florida State. While the latest is not going to cause an uproar, it probably had Tampa Bay Buccaneers officials shaking their heads.
Winston took part in Bucs legend Derrick Brooks’ charity golf tournament this week, and he decided to volunteer for a stunt that involved allowing someone to drive a golf ball off the top of his head. Granted, the guy swinging the club was from a group called MachoMan Trick Shots, but it was probably enough to make Bruce Arians hold his breath.
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A little fun with @jaboowins3 at the #derrickbrooks55 golf event! Thank you Derrick for having me, and thank you Jameis for having the confidence in me to pull this off!! Also shout out to my boy @warrensapp showin’ off that newfound golf swing dropping bombs off the tee!!!💪🏻 • • • #tampabaybucs #nfl #helmethair #sportscentertop10 #golfgods #golfballed #golfstarz #machomanentertainment #scratchtv #golfobsession #barstoolsports #pxg #callawaygolf #royaltysports #pgatour #foxsports #nbcsports #skysports #trickshots #longdrive #golfkings #floridastateseminoles #ncaa #noles #bucs #football #celebrity #donttrythisathome
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The guy has probably practiced that shot thousands of times, but accidents happen. Again, letting someone tee up a golf ball on your head is nothing compared to some of the headaches Winston has created for the Bucs. That said, if he had asked them how they felt about him letting a guy use him as a tee box, we can probably guess what they would have said.
H/T Joe Bucs Fan
Bruce Arians is entering his first season as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ head coach, and getting the most out of Jameis Winston will be his greatest task. He already recognizes that.
Arians was interviewed by ESPN’s Trey Wingo during the network’s coverage of the draft on Saturday and was asked what he wants and needs from Winston.
“Just more consistency,” Arians said. “Quit throwing it to the other team, and make better decisions. Athletic ability is there, the arm is there. Hopefully with the defensive (draft) picks, we won’t be playing from 20 behind.”
Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in 2015, has thrown 58 interceptions in 56 games — way too high of a mark for an NFL QB. This is a continuation of what he showed in college when he threw for 25 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in 2014 at Florida State before leaving for the draft.
If anyone can get the most out of Winston, it’s Arians. He got some great seasons out of Carson Palmer in Arizona and even brought the most out of Drew Stanton.
Jameis Winston will have an opportunity for a fresh start under Bruce Arians and his new Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaching staff next season, and it sounds like the former top overall pick has been anxiously awaiting a change like this.
During a recent interview with former NFL defensive end Leger Douzable, Winston was asked how he was able to focus enough to turn his season around last year after he began the year suspended and was benched for Ryan Fitzpatrick in October. He essentially said the key was tuning out Dirk Koetter and the former Bucs coaching staff.
“I had to look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘Hey Jameis, what do you have to do?’ And that was simply, ‘Get back to playing Jameis Winston football. Be yourself. Have that swag. Don’t try to be something that a coach is trying to get you to be,’” Winston said, as transcribed by JoeBucsFan.com. “You know, you gotta go and be you.”
Winston did not show much improvement under Koetter, and the Bucs are hoping he can finally make the leap with Arians taking over. Arians is known as somewhat of a quarterback guru, having worked with top players at the position like Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer. There was originally talk about Tampa moving on from Winston this offseason, but they are standing behind him yet again.
Of course, you could argue that the off-field issues Winston has had prove he has been less than 100 percent focused through his first four NFL seasons. If he wants to get the most out of his new coach, he has to show he can be a professional.
It’s been an up-and-down season for Jameis Winston, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are keeping their quarterback on board for 2019.
Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht confirmed Monday that Winston will return to the team in 2019 despite a season that saw him suspended and later benched.
Licht on Winston: “Jameis Winston will be here…he has done some amazing things…accomplished more than some of the elite quarterbacks at his age. There’s a lot to like about Jamies and he’ll be here next year.”
— Ryan Bass (@Ry_Bass) December 31, 2018
After throwing 10 interceptions in his first four appearances of the season, Winston rounded into form after getting his job back, throwing 13 touchdowns and four picks in his final seven games. That sort of statline and this sort of resolution looked a long way away after he threw four interceptions in one game on Oct. 28, but he ended up sorting it out and has been rewarded with a public vote of confidence from his franchise. Their next coach will be tasked with getting the best out of him consistently.
There have been plenty of questions about Jameis Winston’s future with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this year due to erratic play on the field and some issues off of it, but the team apparently intends to stick with the former first-round pick heading into 2019.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Bucs are planning to bring back Winston as their starting quarterback next season. He is scheduled to make around $20 million after the team picked up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract, and Tampa’s brass reportedly feels he gives them the best chance to win.
Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, has thrown just 15 touchdowns compared to 13 interceptions in 10 games this season. He has thrown 57 picks in three-plus NFL seasons, which has been his biggest issue. To give you some perspective, Aaron Rodgers has thrown 80 interceptions during his career and has been in the NFL for a decade longer than Winston.
Winston was suspended to start the season after he was accused of inappropriately touching an Uber driver, and he recently settled a lawsuit related to the case. Assuming the Bucs do stick with him as their starter in 2019, he will likely need to prove himself on and off the field before they think about signing him to a contract extension.