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Jameis Winston says his benching is 'humbling' but understandable

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Despite his benching, the Bucs haven't closed the door on Jameis Winston (0:43)

Despite his benching, the Bucs haven't closed the door on Jameis Winston returning this season. Video by Jenna Laine (0:43)

TAMPA, Fla. -- Amid the speculation that surfaced as a result of his benching and what it means for his future, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston was asked Thursday if he sees himself as a member of the team a year from now.

"Yeah, hopefully," Winston said, admitting that coach Dirk Koetter's decision to start Ryan Fitzpatrick against the Carolina Panthers this week caught him off guard.

"I didn't expect it, but one thing about me [is that] I can be honest with myself in terms of playing on the field," Winston said. "Turnovers -- if you turn the ball over in college, high school -- it puts your team in a bad position to win and we need to win as a team, so I can definitely understood why Coach Koetter went with Fitz."

Winston threw four interceptions against the Cincinnati Bengals last week before he was pulled late in the third quarter. In four games and three starts this year, he has thrown 10 interceptions. He threw 11 in 13 games last season. The Bucs (3-4) are 1-2 in games he started in 2018.

"I don't think I've ever been benched. ... It's humbling," said Winston, a Heisman Trophy winner in 2013 and the first overall draft pick in 2015. "It's something I can learn from and grow from, and it just adds to the story. Every year my job is to get better and better and right now, I'm not getting the job done. I have been replaced and I'm moving forward."

Neither Winston nor Koetter can pinpoint what exactly has caused Winston to struggle, including if it is the fact that he spent three weeks away from the team while serving a suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.

"If I knew exactly why, then I'd do everything I could to try to fix it. We wouldn't be where we're at right now," Koetter said. "It's just becoming a little bit too much of a trend. ... We have plenty of other issues, including coaching, [but] we just can't lose the turnover [battle] 7-0 in the last two games. We just can't do that and expect to win."

"I don't think I've ever been benched. ... It's humbling. It's something I can learn from and grow from, and it just adds to the story. Every year my job is to get better and better and right now, I'm not getting the job done. I have been replaced and I'm moving forward."
Jameis Winston

Koetter's decision was made easier by Fitzpatrick's stunning play to open the season, throwing for 1,230 yards, 11 touchdowns and 4 interceptions and completing over 70 percent of his passes in Weeks 1-3.

"A lot of teams don't switch because they have an untested backup or they're afraid to put their backup in there, and we don't have either of those [issues]," Koetter said.

As far as how Fitzpatrick is treating the chance to start again, he said he won't be looking over his shoulder Sunday, fearing he may be pulled if he struggles.

"Whether it's warranted or not, as much confidence I have in myself, that's not something I really think about," said Fitzpatrick, who noted that he was benched three times with the New York Jets in 2016. "Especially with the quarterback position, it's performance-based. If you play well, you're gonna be out there. If you don't, you're not. I understand that part of it as well as anybody in the league probably."