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Bucs thrilled with Jameis Winston's football smarts

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Bucs rookie passer Jameis Winston urged fans not to "panic" over his hot-and-cold preseason debut.

He's right. There were positives to pull from his first NFL outing -- and more than enough confidence behind the scenes that Winston can adapt to the pro game.

The Bucs have felt that way since March, long before the draft, when Tampa's coaching staff tested Winston's football smarts during his first visit with the team. The signal-caller blew them away.

Every game, all season

ESPN's John Clayton wrote how the Bucs drew a rash of plays on the board, diving deep into the details of how each call worked with "seven or eight points of complex study."

Winston watched without taking notes before leaving to meet with people around the building. He returned to the board hours later and explained every one of those plays in rich, exact detail. The Bucs told Clayton that Winston graded out at 100 percent.

"Well, ever since I was six, I had a little notebook with coverages and notes on the mental aspect of a game, what it meant to be a leader and what type of attitude you had to have," Winston told Clayton. "When I was young, I always wanted to be great at football."

Winston claims to have a photographic memory, saying: "I learn in different ways. If I can visualize what's going on and see what's happening, I can go out there and do it out there on the field."

"Some guys can be really smart, but he can see it on the field, it gets to his brain and it triggers to his release fast," said Bucs offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. "He sees the field well. Some guys can be really smart but they don't see the field very good. He does see the field."

That knowledge didn't prevent Winston from throwing a pick and completing just 9 of 19 passes in his preseason debut. Still, Winston showed resolve in driving the team down the field on a nine-play, 76-yard touchdown march before the half.

Much has been made of Marcus Mariota's pro-ready smarts, but the Bucs didn't draft an on-field dunce, either, leaving Koetter to say of Winston: "He's sharp."

The latest Around The NFL Podcast continues with its fantasy extravaganza and takes you behind the scenes in Cleveland with Marc Sessler.

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