TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston saw linebacker Devin White coming up the middle and a safety blitz coming from the right. Wide receiver Chris Godwin was doubled up on his left, so Winston tried to hit wideout Breshad Perriman. Instead, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves swooped in for the interception.
It wasn't the first time a defender got his hands on one of Winston's passes in training camp. In fact, on the previous play, Ndamukong Suh dropped back during a two-minute drill and batted down a pass intended for Godwin over the middle. But there was more than meets the eye on the pick.
"Some guys let him down on that last interception," coach Bruce Arians said. "That was where the ball needed to go -- it was just a bad route [by Perriman]."
That's where Winston is right now with Arians' offense. He has had his hiccups, but so has everyone among his supporting cast. Receivers aren't always winning their routes, and offensive linemen struggled on their first day in pads by missing assignments.
When asked to describe what he has seen from Winston the first few days of training camp, Arians said, "Consistency -- it's just solid."
"He's gradually getting a better understanding of when to get the ball out of his hand," Arians said of Winston. "We've got to do a better job of protecting him in some of these drills, so he can read it out."
That might be hard to believe considering he has thrown multiple interceptions each day of practice, but as Arians said, "He is seeing the kitchen sink on defense."
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is throwing everything at Winston right now -- more than he ever saw in camp with Lovie Smith and Mike Smith's defenses. He might be seeing only four and five guys actually rushing the pocket, but discerning whether White will rush the A-gap or drop into coverage, or if Noah Spence will come off the edge or cover O.J. Howard, or if Suh or Vita Vea (yes, you read that correctly) will rush or drop into coverage has made for a challenge.
Unlike in previous training camps under Smith and former head coach Dirk Koetter, where the offense typically had the early advantage, the defense is winning a lot of reps this year. Arians says he believes that will soon shift. He also says Winston is right where he needs to be in his grasp of the offense, "maybe ahead" of schedule.
The improvement Arians has seen hasn't just been with the grasp of the offense and understanding the mental parts of the game -- although Arians says that's about 70% of the equation -- but in Winston's mechanics, especially his footwork.
"And that helps, because [the footwork] stops that high hot [throw] down the middle," Arians said. "That high hot one down the middle doesn't have anything to do with your brain -- it's your technique. That's usually where he gets in trouble, firing one down the middle that's high and hot. And we've worked a lot, talking about second base throws rather than where a guy has to reach above his head."
Another play Arians has worked with Winston on and has seen improvement has been hitting screen passes to running backs on the run with a defender in his face.
His chemistry with Godwin continues to improve, even with Godwin moving to the slot. Godwin already has caught multiple touchdowns in camp, including coming across the field, slipping behind White and M.J. Stewart for a 40-plus yard catch-and-run.
"He was pretty consistent in all OTAs and minicamp," Arians said of Winston.