TAMPA, Fla. -- Monday's training camp practice got off to a particularly rough start for Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and his receivers. After throwing two incompletions, Winston was picked off by safety Chris Conte on his first series, on a pass that was tipped by cornerback Brent Grimes during 11-on-11s.
But by the end of the day, Winston was firing away, even if the pocket around him was, at times, collapsing. Head coach Dirk Koetter noted that the group fared much better during the blitz period than the previous day. So progress was made despite some initial setbacks.
"Today we faced some adversity, started off kind of slow, but we picked it up -- that's the main thing," Winston said after practice. "Sometimes in games we're going to start off slow, but are we going to lay down? No, we're going to get back up and try again and keep fighting."
He knows a thing or two about rough starts. While he finished his career at Florida State a near-flawless 26-1, a Heisman Trophy winner and a national champion, he was also known for throwing a lot of interceptions -- 28 in two years, tied for second-most in all of college football. Then in his NFL debut, Week 1 against the Tennessee Titans last year, he threw a picked-six on his first passing attempt.
Winston was able to overcome those early setbacks by thinking positively and he encourages his teammates to do the same, sending out motivational quotes to players like Adam Humphries when he feels they need a boost.
"We talk about the 'law of attraction,'" Winston explained, which is the belief that focusing on positive thoughts or negative thoughts will yield positive or negative experiences in life. In the case of his football team, he always wants teammates to think positively.
"We talk about what Denzel Washington said in one of his commencement speeches at, I think the University of Penn, how we need to 'fall forward instead of falling back' because he said, 'You've never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul!' So always fall forward."
He added, "I'm always trying to get the guys to just mentally be prepared. Because like days [like] today when we start off slow, mentally we've got to be there because when you're tired, you've got to be able to focus because that's the difference between winning and losing football games."
Washington provided a graduation commencement speech to the University of Pennsylvania in 2011. In it, he talked about taking risks and using failure to propel you forward, citing Reggie Jackson striking out 2,600 times in his career and Thomas Edison's 1,000 failed experiments.
Washington told the graduates, "Fall forward. Every failed experiment is one step closer to success." He also told the graduates, regarding failure, "Sometimes it's the best way to figure out where you're going." He used the U-Haul reference -- "You will never see a U-Haul behind a hearse. You can't take it with you." -- to challenge the graduates with, "Whatever it is, what are you going to do with what you have?"