METAIRIE, La. —As if it were planned, he pointed out the practice field.
Just like the veteran receiver telling reporters why the quarterback was importantHe signed with the organization because of this. Landry noticed Winston as the last player on the field after practice had ended.
“Look, I don’t see nobody else out here. This guy’s the last one. That’s who he is,” said Landry, who signed with the team in May. “That’s something you want at that position and a part of your team.
“He’s a leader, man. … Just the conversations that we had, the intent that he’s putting behind the things that he’s saying.”
Winston enters his eighth season. It could be said that this is Winston's last season. The No. 1 draft pick — his best chance to succeed as a starter quarterback.
Yes, Winston was considered by the Saints to be replaced when they pursued aggressively a trade for Browns.He is currently facing 24 civil lawsuits for inappropriate conduct and sexual assault during massage sessions. But everything they’ve done since has furthered their commitment to Winston, 28, as he recovers from a torn left ACL he suffered on Oct. 31.
New Orleans signed him up to a two year deal worth $28 million plus incentives. There are $21 million guaranteed. Instead of adding a long-term replacement to the draft, the Saints added Winston wide receivers.Left tackle In Round 1, they will trade away their first-round pick. .
Add the All-Pro receiver's expected returnfrom the ankle injury that wiped out his entire 2021 season, and Winston’s top three receivers should be upgrades.
“This team that we’re building is electric, so I’m just excited about that,” said Winston, who has used the words “excited” and “grateful” countless times this offseason.
“I’m happy for the opportunity that was presented to me, and I look forward to really building on that opportunity and taking advantage of it,” said Winston, who stressed how meaningful it is for him to head into this summer without being in a daily competition for the job as he was withLast year.
But Winston said that’s as much about getting the regular practice reps with his teammates as it is about any sort of status symbol. While Winston said it’s meaningful for him to have a “certain type of ownership” over the leadership role he inherited from former Saints legend Drew Brees, he was quick to insist, “I’m always gonna be in a competition.”
“It is promising when you see the picks that we have and how this team is building,” Winston said. “But, you know, when I said it feels good not to be in a competition — I’m always competing.”
After undergoing surgery to repair his knee, Winston was able to participate in minicamp and OTA practice. He is currently wearing a protective brace that he says he will wear all season. He is still limited from certain activities, such as rolling out to make plays.
But Winston is doing pretty much everything else on the field and insists he is “way” ahead of schedule.
Winston said he is happy to take things slowly and “do this the right way.” But he didn’t want to miss out on spending this time around his teammates because he said that’s what he missed most during the final two months last season.
“He loves his teammates genuinely,” said running backThis is the latest of a long line Saints teammates to express that sentiment.
“He’s the man. I’m happy he’s our Q,” Ingram said. “He’s just a great dude, man — great quarterback, great leader, super talented. I’m excited for the year he’s gonna have.
“He still has like a super chip on his shoulder. He wants improvement, he want to get better and he wants the best. That’s the mindset that a lot of us have in this locker room.”
Coach Dennis Allen and longtime Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. both mentioned Winston’s infectious energy and leadership presence, something former coach Sean Payton also praised.
But obviously Carmichael’s top task will be to maximize Winston’s strengths while continuing to eliminate the turnover issues that plagued him during his first five seasons with the.
Last year was almost a perfect balance. Winston finished the year at 5-2 as a starter, throwing 14 touchdown passes and three interceptions. He also had a career high passer rating of 102.8. He is expected to continue these numbers and be a major player in his next contract.
Winston was able to complete 59% of his passes, and averaged just 186 passing yards over his six games. Saints, on the other hand, relied heavily in their defense and had some conservative offensive game plan.
These numbers will be helped by improvements at wide receiver, and a stronger offensive line. Winston acknowledged that he– especially in an offense that will feature Thomas, Landry and pass-catching running back .
So far, Winston’s showing good signs on the practice field. He stated that he only did short and intermediate throws during the initial stages of his recovery.
“He’s worked his tail off this offseason getting ready to go and being a big part of communicating and sharing his thoughts about how he sees things, and we’re excited to get going,” Carmichael said. “He played, and he managed the game [last season]He knew exactly what it would take to win those games. Everything wasn’t perfect – there were things that we’re all gonna grow from.
“But I thought he did a good job in his preparation, and he’s obviously a great team guy.”