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LeBeau on Jameis: He 'is not a rookie throwing the ball'

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The hype regarding Sunday's Tennessee Titans-Tampa Bay Buccaneers tussle will surround Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston.

As Mariota astutely pointed out this week, however, the No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks in the draft will not take the field at the same time.

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Instead, Winston will match wits with the Titans and new defensive assistant Dick LeBeau. The 78-year-old gushed about Winston's ability as a passer this week.

"There is no question this guy is not a rookie throwing the ball," LeBeau said, via the team's official website. "He has thrown the ball all his life, and he is a proven winner. I don't know how many times he's brought his football team back from behind. He is a proven winner and he is not a rookie throwing the ball. It is his first year in the NFL, and he'll get better as he goes along. But I don't look at this guy as a rookie passer at all. He can throw the ball any place and get it in there....He has as much arm strength as I have seen, and I know he is going to have confidence because he has an established track record as a winner."

Winston's arm talent is unquestioned. His mental adaptation to the pro game and the blocking in front of him will be the rookie's greatest challenges.

Both are hurdles LeBeau and defensive coordinator Ray Horton surely will try to exploit, likely by bringing waves of pressure at Winston. LeBeau has a history of wrecking havoc on rookie signal-callers.

Per ESPN Stats & Info, rookie quarterbacks playing against LeBeau defenses since 1995 are 3-26, with 24 touchdown passes to 37 interceptions and a .551 completion percentage. Jeff Garcia in 1999, is the only rookie to throw for 300 yards in that timespan against a LeBeau-coached defense.

"He is going to try and make us miserable, and we are going to try and make him miserable," LeBeau said of Winston. "One of us will win out at the end of the game. We'll see who that is."

Indeed we will.

Is it Sunday yet?

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