After making the long comeback from a torn ACL that ended his 2021 season prematurely, Saints quarterback Jameis Winston continues to display his grit and determination to compete. Winston reportedly played yesterday’s game against the Buccaneers with four fractures in his back. According to Ari Meirov of Pro Football Focus, although there’s no risk of further injury, Winston is playing through lots of pain and is wearing extra pads to protect the area.
Winston suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of the team’s Week 1 win over Atlanta. He was escorted to the medical tent on the sideline before returning to the bench. Winston told reporters he was in pain and when asked to specify where, he responded, “Just pain. It was pain everywhere.”
Winston was listed as questionable after being limited all week in practice. The fractures are in the lumbar region of the spine, specifically in the L1, L2, L3, and L4 vertebrae, according to Jay Glazer of NFL on FOX. The team’s medical staff had Winston try out several varieties of pads that would protect that lower back region, but it seems that any measures or precautions are just targeting pain management at this point in time.
While the staff is doing all they can to protect Winston’s health, the offensive line seems to have other ideas. The Saints have rolled with a starting five of James Hurst, Andrus Peat, Erik McCoy, Cesar Ruiz, and Ryan Ramczyk in the first two games of the season. Despite getting sacked four times and hit eight times, Winston was able to deliver a close win in Week 1 throwing for 269 yards and two touchdowns. Winston continued to get bombarded by an even tougher Buccaneers defense this week, taking on six sacks and getting hit nine times. The result was far less positive in the loss as Winston could only throw for 236 yards with just one touchdown to three interceptions.
Winston is showing he is a tough, strong football player, but if the Saints have any hopes of keeping the injury-riddled 28-year-old on the field all year, they are going to need significant improvements up front. If the offensive line can’t wait for players like rookie first-round pick Trevor Penning or former Chargers starter Forrest Lamp to come off injured reserve, they may need to figure out a way to scheme protection for their beleaguered quarterback from other positions.
Perhaps getting targets like running back Alvin Kamara and wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith back on the field will help Winston get the ball out of his hands quick enough to avoid so much trauma. Both practiced a bit this week but were forced to sit out the game against Tampa Bay. Getting the offense around Winston healthy may be the key to keeping the ailing quarterback off the sideline for the season.