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posted on 10-12-2018 at 02:44 AM
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(AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can’t avoid questions about Jameis Winston’s return much longer.
The young quarterback’s three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy ended after Monday night’s 30-27 loss to the
Pittsburgh Steelers. It is unclear, however, if he’s coming back as the starter.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has made the decision a lot tougher than expected by throwing for more than 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns in Winston’s absence,
including going 30 of 50 for 411 yards and three TDs against the Steelers.
Dirk Koetter repeatedly shrugged off questions about his plans while Winston was away. And now that his return is imminent, the coach is still not
“Let’s see what the injury report (says),” Koetter said Monday night, sidestepping the question once again.
“Anytime we have these games, it’s not always obvious how the guys are going to come in the next day and come in on Wednesday,” the coach added.
“Let’s see what happens. I mean, I’d love to get a chance to talk to Jameis face to face before I tell the rest of the world.”
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 353 yards and three touchdowns for the Steelers (1-1-1), who built a 20-point lead and held on for their first win
despite not scoring in the second half.
Pittsburgh’s defense forced four first-half turnovers, including three interceptions of Fitzpatrick, the 35-year-old journeyman quarterback who’s
led the Bucs to a 2-1 start while throwing for more than 400 yards in each game.
“You know, I have so much fun playing this game. I have fun playing with these guys, and I’m here just ready to do whatever it takes to help the
team win,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think that will be my mindset going forward.”
Winston started 45 of 48 games over the first three years of his career. He was suspended following the NFL’s investigation of an accusation that in
March 2016 he groped a female Uber driver during a ride in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“We love Jameis. He’s a member of our team, and we’re anxious to get him back,” Koetter said. ” He’ll be great in our locker room and .
whatever role that he ends up in, I know Jameis will embrace that role and give it everything’s he got.”
Some takeaways from Steelers-Buccaneers:
The Steelers capped a tumultuous week in which star receiver Antonio Brown made headlines by shouting at an assistant coach on the sidelines and
getting into a spat on social media with a former team employee.
Brown scored on a 27-yard reception, Ryan Switzer caught 1-yard TD pass from Roethlisberger, and Vance McDonald stiff-armed safety Chris Conte to
break into the clear on a 75-yard pass play that got the Steelers going early.
Roethlisberger’s on-field chemistry with Brown appeared fine in the first game since the receiver responded to a former team employee on social
media by suggesting the club trade him if it wants to find out how productive he can be without Roethlisberger.
“I still think the biggest issue was outside the locker room, people perceiving different things,” Roethlisberger said. “Not saying we don’t
have issues. All teams have issues, and there’s different things going on. But I think it was made a bigger issue than it really was.”
FLAGS, FLAGS, FLAGS
The teams combined for five roughing-the-passer penalties, most in an NFL game since 2001, as fans around the league continue to gripe about flags
being thrown for what appear to be routine tackles. Pittsburgh was flagged three times for hits on Fitzpatrick, and the Bucs were called twice for
roughing Roethlisberger. In all, the Steelers were penalized 13 times for 155 yards. Tampa Bay had nine penalties for 80 yards. The Bucs also had a
holding penalty that wiped out what would have been an 80-yard punt return for a TD by DeSean Jackson.
“I thought the penalties kind of marred the game. There were a lot of penalties on us and on them,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “We’ll
look at it and learn from it, but I thought the guys played extremely hard.”
Tampa Bay made it close by keeping Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh’s high-powered offense on the sideline for long stretches of the second half.
Fitzpatrick led a long field goal drive that consumed nearly eight minutes of the third quarter. The Steelers used most of the remainder of the period
to move into position for a 47-yard field goal that Chris Boswell missed.
The Bucs used TD catches by Chris Godwin and Mike Evans to pull within 30-27. They got the ball back with just over three minutes left, but the
Steelers defense forced a punt and Roethlisberger ran out the clock.
“I thought our defense played awesome, creating turnovers, short field, making some stops,” Roethlisberger said. “I told this team afterwards
that was a total team win, all the phases. That’s what Steeler football is all about.”
A look at the players to be inducted Sunday into the Baseball Hall of Fame:
LARRY WAYNE "CHIPPER" JONES JR.: Born April 24, 1972 in Deland, Florida. ... 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, batted both, threw right. ... elected in first
year of eligibility with 97.2 percent (410 of 422) of the vote. ... drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the first round of the 1990 MLB amateur draft out
of the Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida. ... in 19 seasons with the Braves had 2 Dontae Johnson Color Rush Jersey ,726 hits, 1,055
for extra bases, and batted .303 with 468 home runs, 1,623 RBIs and 150 stolen bases. ... eight-time All-Star third baseman. ... was a force for most
of the Atlanta teams that won 14 straight division titles and one World Series. ... in 1999 hit 45 homers and 41 doubles, drove in 126 runs, scored
116 times, drew 126 walks, and stole 20 bases to win NL MVP Award. ... won NL Silver Slugger Award for third basemen in 1999-2000. ... in 2006 had an
extra-base hit in 14 straight games to tie the MLB record set in 1927 by Pittsburgh's Paul Waner. ... led MLB in hitting in 2008 with .364 average.
... only switch-hitter in MLB history with career batting average of at least .300 and 400 or more homers.
JAMES HOWARD THOME: Born Aug. 27, 1970 in Peoria, Illinois. ... 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, batted left, threw right. ... elected in first year of
eligibility, one of only 54 players to do so, receiving 89.8 percent of the ballots. ... selected by the Cleveland Indians out of Illinois Central
College in the 13th round of the 1989 amateur draft. ... batted .276, played in 2,543 games and had 2,328 hits, 1,583 runs, 612 home runs and 1,699
RBIs in 22 seasons with the Indians, White Sox, Phillies, Dodgers, Twins and Orioles. ... played first base, third base and designated hitter ... had
a record 13 walk-off homers and hit 40 or more home runs six times. ... five-time All-Star. ... best season was 2002 in Cleveland when he hit a
career-high 52 home runs with 118 RBIs and led AL in walks (122), slugging percentage (.677) and on-base plus slugging (OPS) (1.122), and batted .304
with an on-base percentage of .445. ... hit 17 homers in the postseason.
VLADIMIR ALVINO GUERRERO: Born Feb. 9, 1975, in Don Gregorio, Dominican Republic. ... 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, batted right and threw right. .. earned
votes on 92.9 percent of all BBWAA ballots cast in his second year of eligibility. ... batted .318 with 2,590 hits, 449 home runs, 1,496 RBIs and .553
slugging percentage in 16 seasons for the Expos, Angels, Rangers and Orioles. ... nine-time All-Star. ... had 39 doubles, 39 homers, 124 runs and 126
RBIs to win 2004 AL MVP Award. ... eight-time Silver Slugger Award winner. ... hit .300 or higher 13 times, drove in 100 or more runs 10 times, and
connected for at least 30 homers eight times. ... notorious free-swinging Youth Darnell Nurse Jersey , bad-ball hitter who
slammed 126 first-pitch homers and struck out just 985 times. ... strong-armed outfielder who had 14 seasons of double-digit assists and 14 seasons of
at least 10 errors and finished career with 126 assists and 125 errors. ... spent six seasons with the Angels after eight years in Montreal and will
be first player inducted with an Angels logo on his Hall plaque.
TREVOR WILLIAM HOFFMAN: Born Oct. 13, 1967 in Bellflower, California. ... 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, batted right and threw right. ... received 79.9
percent of the Hall of Fame vote after missing by only five votes last year. ... drafted by the Cincinnati Reds on the 11th round of the 1989 MLB
amateur draft. ... was a minor league infielder for three seasons before becoming a relief pitcher. ... in 18 years mainly with the San Diego Padres
appeared in 1,035 games, posting a 61-75 record and registering 601 saves, second all-time to Mariano Rivera's 652. ... sixth pitcher who served
mostly as a reliever to make the Hall of Fame. ... in 1,089.1 innings pitched allowed 846 hits, 378 runs, struck out 1,133 and had a career ERA of
JOHN SCOTT MORRIS: Born: May 16, 1955, in St. Paul, Minnesota. ... 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, batted right and threw right. ... elected last December by a
veterans committee. ... drafted by the Detroit Tigers on the fifth round of the 1976 MLB amateur draft out of Brigham Young University. ... in 18
years with Detroit, Minnesota, Toronto and Cleveland pitched 3,824 innings and posted a 254-186 record with 2,478 strikeouts. ... had 175 complete
games and a career ERA of 3.90, the highest of any pitcher in the Hall of Fame. ... five-time All-Star. ... played on four World Series champions,
Detroit (1984), Minnesota (1991), and Toronto (1992-93). ... one of six players in MLB history to win consecutive World Series titles on different
teams. ... was 7-4 with five complete games in 13 postseason starts. ... went 4-2 with an ERA of 2.96 in six World Series starts, completing three.
... started the most games (332), pitched the most innings (2,443.2), and had the most wins (162) of any pitcher in the 1980s. ... retired after the
1994 season and appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time in 2000. ... has worked as a broadcaster for the Blue Jays, Twins, and Tigers
ALAN STUART TRAMMELL: Born Feb. 21, 1958 in Garden Grove, California. ... 6 foot, 165 pounds, batted right and threw right. ... elected last December
by a veterans committee. ... drafted by the Detroit Tigers on the second round of the 1976 MLB amateur draft. ... consistent all-around producer at
shortstop from 1977-96, playing in 2,293 games for the Tigers. ... had 2,365 hits, 185 homers, 1,003 RBIs, 1,231 runs, and 236 stolen bases. ...
six-time All-Star. ... earned four Gold Glove Awards and three Silver Slugger Awards. ... hit two home runs in one game and batted .450 to win MVP
honors in Detroit's five-game triumph over the San Diego Padres in 1984 World Series. ... in 1987 finished second in AL MVP voting after hitting .343
with 28 homers and 105 RBIs while batting cleanup. ... seven-time .300 hitter with a .285 career batting average.