There’s been a mixed bag of injury news in Tampa this week as the team placed a pair of offensive linemen on injured reserve while getting quarterback Jameis Winston back into the lineup after missing three weeks with a right shoulder injury.
On Wednesday, head coach Dirk Koetter was asked about the prospect of continuing to sit Winston because the loss of center Ali Marpet and right tackle Demar Dotson could hurt the team’s ability to protect the quarterback. Koetter said doctors told him that Winston is at “no more” risk of injury than he was before he hurt his shoulder and that healthy players play because there’s always injury risk involved with playing in an NFL game.
“It’s a league where if you are healthy, you will play. It’s all around the league,” Koetter said, via ESPN.com. “The risk factor — that’s there every week at every position. When your medical staff clears any player for any injury to play, they are not going to clear him [if he isn’t healthy]. The player’s health is always the No. 1 thing for every football team. If a player is at no more risk than what the normal risk is — and in the NFL, that’s substantial — then they are going to play. That is what they’re paid to do.”
The offensive line issue isn’t the same at other positions, but the team’s record is and there’s no talk about sitting Mike Evans, Gerald McCoy or Kwon Alexander so it doesn’t make sense that you’d sit Winston because of what might happen. There’s no younger quarterback waiting in the wings because Winston’s in just his third season and can use all the playing time he can get in order to continue growing as a player.