TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is entering his second NFL training camp and his second season working in Dirk Koetter's offense, but you wouldn't know it based on Winston's approach.
"I think that you always have to have that rookie mentality," Winston said Thursday, after the team's first camp practice. "You never have arrived and I know Coach Koetter is going to pull that out of us every single time."
Some would say that Winston arrived last year. The former Heisman Trophy winner became the third rookie to throw for 4,000 yards and 20 touchdowns, joining Andrew Luck (2012) and Cam Newton (2011). He was also Pro Football Focus' Offensive Rookie of the Year. But he stands to improve in some key areas.
Winston will look to make better decisions with the football and cut down on turnovers. Who could forget the pick-six he threw on the first pass of his NFL career, against the Tennessee Titans? Then, three weeks later, he was picked off four times by the Carolina Panthers. He went on to have four straight games without throwing an interception and finished the season with 15 picks.
"A year ago at this time we were still worried how many times Jameis was going to turn it over every day. It looks like we're past that stage," Koetter said Thursday.
"I thought he did a great job today of taking what the defense gave him. He checked the ball down, he threw it deep when they called for him to throw it deep -- he knew exactly where to go with the football. And just to be under control. I don't think Jameis turned it over at all today."
Winston continues to work at cleaning up his mechanics, something he says he wasn't able to do in college while also playing baseball at Florida State. He has worked on his footwork, his balance and creating a strong base to throw from.
"I feel like I made a lot of strides in everything that I did [this offseason]," Winston said. "That was the purpose for me in my offseason, was to get better in every way that I can. I feel like I did, but it's never too bad to keep getting better, so I've got to continue to get better. I'm nowhere near where I need to be and I'm never going to be where I need to be."
And then there is red zone production and putting points on the board. Winston threw for 4,042 passing yards -- 11th in the league -- but was 16th in touchdown passes with 22. He had the second-lowest red zone completion percentage among NFL quarterbacks last year at 42 percent, behind the recently released Nick Foles. Koetter said the Bucs have revisited and modified their plans for Winston in the red zone.
Winston should benefit in the red zone -- and overall -- by having more playmakers to throw to, including a healthy Vincent Jackson and Kenny Bell, who missed all of last season. Mike Evans is looking to rebound from last season, when he had just three touchdown catches, down from 12 his rookie season. Evans said Wednesday that his goal is to catch 90 percent of passes thrown his way in the red zone.
There's also tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who when healthy can be a big threat in the red zone, and Cameron Brate and Adam Humphries, who gained valuable experience last year while filling in for injured starters.
Lastly, there's getting rid of the ball quickly in the face of pressure. The Bucs won't be putting on pads until Sunday, making it difficult to gauge just how much duress a quarterback is under. But Winston's numbers from last year signify some real growth.
When facing the blitz, his interception percentage changed significantly from the bye week in Week 5 to after the bye -- from 4.8 percent to 0.8. He also took fewer sacks on blitzes -- 8.2 percent before the bye week and 4.5 percent after.