Bucs: Jameis Winston not guaranteed to start Week 4

Jameis Winston's strong showing in preseason action won't guarantee repossession of the starting job when he's reinstated from NFL suspension in Week 4.

Although Winston has shined to the tune of a 126.9 passer rating in August, Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht refutes the notion that the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft will simply be handed the QB1 role when he rejoins teammates after a grueling three-game slate versus the powerhouse Saints, Eagles and Steelers in September.

Appearing on WFLA-TV with Ronde Barber and Chris Myers during Thursday night's broadcast, Licht emphasized that it's not "fair to anybody right now to just lay out that plan and to say definitively" Winston will be under center in Week 4.

Licht cited Ryan Fitzpatrick's momentum and the short week leading into the Sept. 30 clash with the Bears as factors coach Dirk Koetter will have to consider upon Winston's return.

"If Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Griffin, whoever it is, is playing lights out, I don't think it's fair right now just to say, 'Yes, automatically, [Jameis] is going to be the guy,'" Licht explained. "Now, he may be. Dirk and I -- Dirk in particular -- he's got some time to think about that."

Licht believes the Bucs are "very fortunate" to have respectable fallback options such as the experienced veteran Fitzpatrick and an improving third-string quarterback in Griffin.

Make no mistake, though. Unless Fitzpatrick gets off to a blazing start versus that trio of Super Bowl contenders, Winston's considerable edge in talent will be decisive.

"I will say this," Licht continued. "We are very excited where Jameis is right now. And he is playing -- right now in the preseason and the way he finished up last year -- he's playing to where we thought he could be. And there's even more potential there. So we're very excited about having Jamies Winston with us."

That evaluation gibes with Koetter's assessment of Winston's performance after the third preseason game.

"I think performance-wise, you'd have to give Jameis an 'A' for the preseason," Koetter said, via the Tampa Bay Times. "I don't think anybody in their right mind wouldn't say that wasn't an 'A' performance on his part. I think he handled it well. I think he performed very well. He did a really good job of working on things he needed to work on.

"The situation is what it is. I wish it wasn't that way, but it is. We're going to miss him when he's gone, and we'll be glad when he's back."

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