Get @Jaboowins a helmet
— NFL (@NFL) May 13, 2022
While the NFL schedule release took center stage Thursday night, New Orleans Saints fans were treated to another sight. Starting quarterback Jameis Winston joined Rich Eisen, Steve Mariucci and Michael Irvin of NFL Network to discuss the Saints’ 2022 schedule. But before getting into the calendar, Mariucci had a bigger question for Winston.
“Well before we talk more schedule,” the former San Francisco 49ers coach prefaced, “I want to talk about you, Jameis. How are you feeling? Are you close to being 100% so you can win more games this year?”
Without hesitation, Winston gave the most positive response we’ve heard thus far about his recovery from last season’s Week 7 ACL tear: “Coach if you need me to strap it up right now, I’d be able to go.”
The former first-round pick suffered his season-ending injury against his former team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Halloween night last year. It was a devastating blow after a 14-to-3 touchdown to interception ratio got him started after winning the quarterback battle with Taysom Hill.
Winston will see the Buccaneers again early in 2022 with a Week 2 home opener in New Orleans. It’s appropriate that Winston would open home field play against the team he last met a year ago. But for Winston and the Saints, the first week’s matchup with the Atlanta Falcons is top priority.
When asked if he’d be the starting quarterback against the Falcons Week 1, Winston minced no words. “Yes sir,” he told Eisen. “I know I’m (going to) be out there ready and prepared to go. Absolutely.”
New Orleans brought Winston back this offseason on a two-year $28 million deal. They also added veteran signal-caller Andy Dalton to back him up. But if Winston’s assessment of his recovery is correct, there will be no need for an early-season look at Dalton. From what Winston had to say, he should be on the field Week 1 in Atlanta.