MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Jameis Winston produced mixed results at best in his first NFL action for Tampa Bay, while Teddy Bridgewater had Minnesota’s passing attack in prime form to spark the Vikings in a 26-16 exhibition victory over the Buccaneers on Saturday night.
Winston, the first pick in the draft out of Florida State, played the whole first half and finished 9 for 19 for 131 yards. He had a pass intercepted by Antone Exum, mishandled two snaps that led to a total of 19 lost yards and threw several passes well off target.READ MORE: COVID In Minnesota: UK Variant Outbreak Linked To Youth Sports In Carver County, Officials Recommend 2-Week Pause
“You have to have a first game,” said Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith, whose team went 2-14 last season. “You have to work something some of those things, and that’s what he’s doing.”
The majority of Winston’s completions came in the second quarter when the Vikings had their backups in on defense. The brighter side for Winston and the Buccaneers included a 40-yard completion to Vincent Jackson with Vikings rookie cornerback Trae Waynes in coverage and an 8-yard touchdown run after the pocket collapsed around him on third down.
“I have so much confidence in this kid,” Jackson said. “I think he’s going to have a great year. He’s just so mart. He’s picked up everything fast, and he sees things on the field that a veteran sees. It’s a lot of fun playing with him.”READ MORE: More Than 1 Million Wisconsin Residents Have Been Vaccinated
Bridgewater went 7 for 8 for 86 yards and backup Shaun Hill finished 8 for 9 for 104 yards and touchdown passes to Cordarrelle Patterson and Adam Thielen, and seven Vikings receivers had two catches apiece in the first half.
The biggest problem that emerged for the Vikings was right tackle Phil Loadholt, who limped off the field after the second play from scrimmage with a significant injury to his lower left leg. Loadholt was replaced by T.J. Clemmings, who was the team’s fourth-round draft pick.
The Buccaneers had their starting right tackle get hurt, too: Demar Dotson injured his left knee and, as per usual out of precaution with preseason injuries, did not return to the game. Winston is the rookie quarterback and the defense was revamped with several free agent additions, but the offensive line is where Tampa Bay’s return to competitiveness will have to start.MORE NEWS: Faces Of COVID: Daryl Kruger, 82, Loved His Grandkids And The MN Twins
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