<
>

Gerald McCoy to Jameis Winston: 'Just be a rookie'

TAMPA, Fla. -- The most powerful voice in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' locker room has given rookie quarterback Jameis Winston some strong advice.

"The thing I told him is just to be a rookie," All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "Don't try to come turn the franchise around in your first year. You're still a rookie. You're still young. You haven't played a snap in the NFL. Being the first overall pick, a lot comes with that. But you can't do it overnight. I mentioned Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning still has the rookie record for interceptions. But now he's Peyton Manning. You've just got to be patient and just be a rookie."

McCoy is the unquestioned vocal leader of the Bucs. Although Winston was known for his outgoing personality at Florida State, McCoy said the quarterback doesn't have to be an immediate leader.

"Let the rah-rah guys be the rah-rah guys," McCoy said. "That's me and Clinton McDonald. Lavonte [David] doesn't do much talking, but he talks with his play. And Vincent Jackson. Let those guys do that. You just play your role and he's done that very well."

McCoy, who was drafted third overall in 2010, probably is the one player in the locker room who can relate to what comes with being the first overall pick. McCoy struggled with injuries in his first two seasons before blossoming into a Pro Bowl regular.

"I can speak for the worst of the worst," McCoy said. "From getting hurt the first two years to being labeled a bust and people calling for your head to now people saying "he's always been good." I can speak from both sides. That's why I told him to just be a rookie. Enjoy the process. You've got to be patient. You've got to be thick-skinned. It's the NFL. It's a man's game, not because it's all grown men playing. You can't [worry] about your feelings in the NFL. You're going to get attacked. It's going to happen. When you're the first overall pick, you've got to be perfect. Otherwise, you're not good enough. That's just how it works."