Whether or not new head coach Bruce Arians likes it, he’s likely stuck with Jameis Winston at quarterback this season.
During Friday’s preseason game against the Cleveland Browns, backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert went down with a dislocated non-throwing shoulder, which Arians later confirmed.
Early in the third quarter, Gabbert scrambled up the middle for a first down and landed awkwardly on his left arm after sliding head-first. The 29-year-old was immediately in pain, called the training staff onto the field and left the game.
“His shoulder popped out,” Arians said after the game, via ESPN. “He was hurting pretty good, but [I told him], ‘Good thing it's not your throwing shoulder. You’ll be all right.’”
Dislocated shoulders often take months to recover from, but the Buccaneers have not offered a loose timeline for Gabbert’s recovery yet, or whether he’ll need surgery.
Ryan Griffin, 29, who has yet to appear in a game since joining the Bucs in 2015, was the only other quarterback on roster at the time of the injury. Saturday morning, the team announced that they had signed rookie QB Vincent Testaverde, the son of the Bucs’ all-time leading passer.
“It was tough [watching] but Blaine's a soldier,” Winston said, “and it was a great opportunity for Griff to step in and do a great job. He’s been doing a great job this entire preseason.”
The Bucs’ success rides on Jameis this season
With Winston’s former backup/co-starter Ryan Fitzpatrick moving south to the Miami Dolphins — where he’s taking the preseason very seriously — there was never truly going to be competition for the Bucs’ quarterback job.
The Buccaneers picked up Winston’s fifth-year option last April, and he gave them a shaky 2018 season with 2,992 yards in 11 games with 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Now they’ll need to decide if the former No. 1 pick is worth a long-term commitment.
Arians has been a quarterback whisperer of sorts in the past. He revitalized Carson Palmer's career at 34 with the Arizona Cardinals, and Winston is every bit as talented as his fellow former Heisman winner.
The Buccaneers will win or lose with Winston, but it would have been more comforting to have a quality backup in town just in case. Gabbert will never live up to his 10th overall draft-pick status, but he also didn't burn the house down in three starts for the Tennessee Titans last season when he had to sub for Marcus Mariota.
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