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Wednesday, Jul 18, 2018
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Quarterback Jameis Winston will start Sunday for the Bucs

TAMPA — Jameis Winston hadn't thrown in practice since he injured his right shoulder in Sunday's loss at Arizona, and with that uncertainty, a wide line of TV cameras and reporters' cellphones were all out Friday morning, recording the moment as Winston tested his shoulder with his first throws early in practice.

If there were any doubt about Winston's ability to throw, he looked toward the end zone then casually sailed a throw another 25 yards farther and into the media area, with coach Dirk Koetter laughing in the background.

"No comment," he said with a grin, asked about the seemingly errant throw after practice.

Then Koetter had a more significant response. Instead of the usual reveal-no-unnecessary-information "you'll have the injury report" gamesmanship, he had major news to share with Bucs fans about Sunday's game at Buffalo.

"He'll be our starter. Jameis is our starter," Koetter said. "He'll be out there."

Backup Ryan Fitzpatrick, who had thrown for 290 yards and three touchdowns off the bench in replacing Winston and rallying the Bucs from a 31-0 deficit to what ended up a 38-33 loss, had taken most of the reps Wednesday and Thursday.

But Winston showed enough Friday morning that he'll continue his streak of starting every game since his arrival in 2015, with No. 38 coming Sunday.

"Jameis threw the ball well" Friday, said Koetter, who is hoping to get his team back to .500 at 3-3 after two straight losses during a difficult stretch that has the Bucs playing six road games in eight weeks.

The Bucs have had slow starts on the road this year, falling behind early in losses at Minnesota and Arizona, and Winston on Sunday faces a Bills defense that is among the NFL's best at getting interceptions and winning the turnover margin.

Winston sprained the AC joint in his right (throwing) shoulder and left in the second quarter of last Sunday's game. Afterward, he said he wasn't expecting to miss a game, but he was cautious this week, running through drills and doing everything short of testing his shoulder by making a throw.

"My thought process is to play," Winston said Thursday when asked about his approach to an uncertain week. "That's my thought process."

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

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