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Jameis Winston working tirelessly to return to form at quarterback for New Orleans Saints

'Just ready to get taken off the leash'


Whatever other label can be applied to Jameis Winston on a football field, indefatigable belongs on the list because he apparently doesn't have an "off" switch.

Post practice, first at OTAs and now at veteran minicamp, the New Orleans Saints quarterback is working something.

He's throwing.

He's running.

He's working up enough sweat to half-fill a canal, and it's simply a part of what he's willing to do in order to be the best version of himself as he returns from tearing his left ACL, which ended his 2021 season in his seventh game.

"Right now I'm just working on accuracy," Winston said Tuesday after the veteran minicamp practice, explaining the post-practice routine that even teammates have taken note of. "When I'm working with Rich, it looks like I'm just throwing to him. But I do a lot of things visualizing – just throwing with my eyes closed, feeling the ball coming off my fingers and trying to be as accurate as possible."

Winston's accuracy last season, 59 percent, was the second lowest of his career. But his decision making – 14 touchdowns and just three interceptions in less than seven full games – was at its peak. His touchdown-to-interception ratio was the best in his career and his interception percentage (1.9) was the lowest in his career.

Working back from the knee injury on has made Winston more eager to work.

"I feel great, getting better every day," he said. "Just ready to get taken off the leash. Listening to the protocol that the team has me on, and honoring that."

Meanwhile, Winston simply is trying to wade through a process with which he's unfamiliar, but learning.

"Hell yeah, it's tough," he said. "This is my first experience in this realm, so I'm listening. I'm also still doing, because I just can't sit back and wait too much. But I'm doing my best to just listen to them and trust them."

SOME LIKE IT NOT SO HOT: The Saints finished off minicamp with a closed practice at the indoor facility, after practicing outside the first two days. The first two workouts dictated the location of the third.

"(It) probably was determined about 12:30 (Wednesday) afternoon, after walking off that field and a couple of 90-plus degree days," Coach Dennis Allen said, smiling. "That's part of the deal. You put in two good days in 90-plus degree temperatures, let's get inside, let's get some good work. Short, crisp practice today. Typically, on the last day of anything, all of us are human so your attention span begins to wane a little bit. And so, how do we (keep it) short, crisp, keep their attention and then now we get a chance to get away from a little bit and kind of get our minds off of it a little bit before we get into the grind of training camp."

BRYCE GRIP: Defensive back Bryce Thompson, who spent a portion of his first NFL season on the Saints' practice squad, has put to use what he learned last season. Thompson broke up several passes during minicamp to aid his quest to make the 53-man roster. "Any time you get to grow through experience, it's a benefit to you," Allen said of Thompson. "His ability as a young player to kind of be on the practice squad, be in the system for a year, understand not only what we're asking him to do but also how we're asking him to do it, I think is a plus.

"I think with Bryce, as with a lot of these guys, we're working on consistency. You see some good plays, and then you see some plays where you're like, 'Ah, we've got to get better in that area.' So, I think that's what all players should and are striving to do, is become more consistent. Because I know from a coaching staff standpoint, if I know exactly what I'm getting on every play, it's much easier for me to put you in positions to have success."

TAYLOR MADE: Allen said he also was impressed by what he saw from rookie cornerback Alontae Taylor, the team's second-round pick. "I really like him," Allen said. "I think he's probably a little further ahead than what I anticipated when he got in here, and (I'm) excited about seeing what he can do as we keep moving forward.

"The thing you don't really know when you draft a player is fully what that makeup is – football character, intelligence, those types of things. And we had good reads on him in the spring in terms of that, but until you really actually get in the building and get a chance to work with him, you don't really know and that's where I've been impressed with him."

New Orleans Saints players participate in Day 3 of 2022 Minicamp at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center on Thursday, June 16, 2022.

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