MINNEAPOLIS, MN (WFLA) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers will line up against the Minnesota Vikings for the first pre-season game of the 2015-2016 football season. And Jameis Winston will be right there, ready for his first pro snap Saturday night at the TCF Bank Stadium.
Although the Bucs didn’t focus much on the game planning, not looking at the Vikings until Thursday, this game is anything but throwaway for the team that finished the last season with 2-14 record.
“Tough game last year, tough loss for us last year against them,” Head Coach Lovie Smith said. “And they played well against the Steelers the first time. We get a chance to see where we really are after this first game…. We have a tentative depth chart but once you start going against other competition, that’s when it really means something.”
There will be a lot of firsts during this game – 21 rookies made it to Minneapolis this week, the coaching staff will be able to learn a lot by watching the players compete as pros for the first time.
“We see the guys tackle, really for the first time. for our quarterbacks to throw the ball knowing they can get hit on the other side… running backs taking hits all the way down. there’s a lot we get, just seeing guys finish plays,” Smith said.
But nobody will be more scrutinized than Jameis Winston. The Heisman Trophy winner, the first overall draft pick of 2015 will has been working hard on his passing game. He’s thrown many interceptions in practice but improved his completion percentage at the end of the camp. He has made some beautiful throws but was also picked off twice in one camp day.
“Yes, there’s a lot of excitement to see Jameis play for the first time, and our football team, hopefully, too,” Smith said about Winston. “And with good reason. You had the first pick in the draft and there’s a lot that comes with that, but there are a lot of other things that we’re excited about also. It’s a team sport, and our team has looked good. Four or five positions, I’m anxious to see exactly how they respond.”
Louis Murphy, the Bucs’ wide receiver had one piece of advice for Jameis.
“Everybody remembers their first NFL game,” he said. “My thing would be just to stay focused, stay calm, it’s just another game.”
WFLA News Channel 8 Pregame Coverage begins at 7 p.m. Saturday with our exclusive interviews, training camp footage and more – on air and online.
The kick-off for the first pre-season game against Minnesota Vikings is at 8 p.m.