The Tampa Bay Buccaneers certainly have had plenty of time to get used to the idea that Jameis Winston will miss the first three games of the season because of a suspension.
Watching the quarterback light up a defense in just a quarter doesn’t make it any easier.
Winston threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns after coming off the bench in the second quarter, and the Buccaneers beat the Tennessee Titans 30-14 Saturday night in the teams’ second exhibition game.
Ryan Fitzpatrick started for a second straight week as the Buccaneers (2-0) prepare the veteran to run the offense while Winston sits out for violating the league’s personal conduct policy after the NFL investigated an allegation Winston groped a female Uber driver in Arizona in March 2016.
“It is what it is,” Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter said of Winston’s looming suspension. “I mean, we’re over that. We’ve got to move forward. We’ve got three good quarterbacks.”
Fitzpatrick helped the Bucs hold the ball for 9 minutes of the first quarter, but they settled for a field goal as the quarterback was 5 of 13 for 46 yards passing.
Then Winston completed eight of his first nine passes and left with a 151.4 passer rating. He threw for big chunks, hitting Mike Evans for 38 yards and then DeSean Jackson on a 54-yarder . Winston found Chris Godwin in a pack of Titans in the end zone for an 8-yard TD and connected with Justin Watson for a 21-yard TD that gave the Bucs a 20-7 halftime lead.
“That second quarter, to have Jameis throw for 200-whatever yards in one quarter with a couple touchdowns, was pretty fun to watch,” Fitzpatrick said.
Winston was just happy to get some work with the first-team offense, even if his first TD pass went into a crowd of defenders. He credited Godwin with getting open, so he threw it up and gave the receiver a chance.
“In film, I’m probably going to get yelled at,” Winston said.
Marcus Mariota left before Winston entered the game featuring the top two draft picks of 2015. Mariota played two series in the first quarter, and he was 4 of 7 for 80 yards with a 47-yard TD to Taywan Taylor off a screen pass.
First-year coach Mike Vrabel continues looking for his first preseason victory with the Titans (0-2).
Taylor, a third-round pick out of Western Kentucky a year ago, got a shout-out from LeBron James on the NFL’s Instagram account for his first TD. James wrote: “SPEED KILLS! Sheesh.” Taylor finished with four catches for 95 yards and two TDs. He caught a 3-yarder from Blaine Gabbert in the third quarter.
“My heart kind of jumped a little bit because you know that’s my favorite player, but that’s crazy though,” Taylor said. “I didn’t expect that. So I’m definitely, a little bit more motivation to do more of that more often.”
Tampa Bay didn’t dress 12 players, with cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III the only starter out. Titans starting cornerback Malcolm Butler did not play, and three-time Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker left Thursday’s practice early with an undisclosed injury. Tennessee had two other starters on the physically-unable-to-perform list in right tackle Jack Conklin and wide receiver Rishard Matthews.
Buccaneers running back Charles Sims was declared out with an injured knee in the opening minutes. Cornerback Jordan Whitehead hurt a shoulder and cornerback M.J. Stewart hurt a foot. Neither returned.
Titans safety Kendrick Lewis hurt his foot in the third quarter.
The Buccaneers lined up on the sideline with no visible protests. The Titans did the same, and three-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jurrell Casey changed his approach. The lineman said in London in July and confirmed on the opening day of training camp that he would keep raising his first at the end of the anthem to bring attention to how the justice system treats minorities. Once the anthem ended, Casey raised his right hand to his forehead and saluted instead of raising a fist.
Casey noted he did the salute before he started raising his fist.
“I’m trying to make sure I use my platform the right way and find different ways we can use this platform in a better way,” Casey said. “Not necessarily just as a protest but also helping the community out and trying to find solutions that we can get involved with using the platform.”
Buccaneers: Host Detroit on Friday.
Titans: Visit Pittsburgh on Aug. 25.