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Lovie Smith: Jameis Winston is more confident and -- believe or not -- vocal

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston completed 16 of 29 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's overtime victory over the Falcons. AP Photo/John Bazemore

TAMPA, Fla. -- Each week, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith has observed rookie quarterback Jameis Winston's growth as a leader.

"That happens with confidence," Smith said Monday. "He is more vocal. And I know you guys know Jameis -- that's saying an awful lot, 'Jameis is more vocal.' Because he likes to talk, which is a good thing. He is going to be our leader. He's not a captain yet. But he is in that role."

Winston's progression should encourage the Bucs, who improved to 3-4 with an overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. He completed 16 of 29 passes for 177 yards and one touchdown. He didn't throw an interception for the third consecutive game.

Winston's demeanor Sunday was a sign of his improving comfort level. He was seen numerous times encouraging offensive teammates on the sideline and being vocal in the huddle. After the game, he rushed onto the field to greet linebacker Kwon Alexander, who played after his younger brother was killed Friday night.

Perhaps the most impressive sequence for Winston came in overtime, when he led the Bucs on a 15-play, 68-yard drive that resulted in a 31-yard field goal by Connor Barth. Winston completed three third-down passes, allowing Tampa Bay to take the lead after Atlanta had scored 17 consecutive points.

"That's what we've seen from him," Smith said of Winston's composure in overtime. "That's how he has handled just about every situation.

"As a rookie quarterback ... he has to go through it for the first time. And he handled it the right way."