Time: 1 p.m.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Jameis Winston concedes it felt a little strange watching the rest of the NFL begin the season while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were scattered around the country for an unscheduled bye imposed by Hurricane Irma.
When the young quarterback finally takes the field Sunday in the team’s delayed opener, Winston will not have taken a snap in a game in three weeks.
Other key players, including receivers DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Kwon Alexander, will line up against the Chicago Bears without having played since Aug. 17.
“I went through a tough time watching, but I really wasn’t thinking about myself,” Winston, who left town to wait out the storm with family in Alabama, said.
“I was thinking about what we were going through — what the people in Florida were going through, what the people in Houston went through because at the end of the day everything is bigger than football,” the third-year pro added.
“Obviously I want to be out there on the field, and I definitely wanted to be playing, but sometimes you’ve got to take that back seat and let things happen.”
Well, it’s time to play.
And rusty or not, the Bucs say they have no excuse to not play well against the Bears (0-1), who dropped their debut with Winston’s former backup, Mike Glennon, at quarterback 23-17 to the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons.
Tampa Bay’s scheduled opener at Miami was moved to Nov. 19, meaning the Bucs will play 16 consecutive weeks to close the regular season.
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