Jameis Winston grateful for his second chance as a starter

Jameis Winston‘s last NFL start came Dec. 29, 2019, when he played for the Buccaneers against the Falcons. On Sunday, Winston officially will become Drew Brees’ successor.

Saints coach Sean Payton named Winston the team’s starter last week, picking the former No. 1 overall choice over Taysom Hill.

“It’s just fun,” Winston said Wednesday, via John DeShazier of the team website. “It’s a blessing. It’s a blessing to have this opportunity to lead the pack, and I’m just grateful for it. It’s been more than a year removed for me having the opportunity, and I’m not taking anything for granted. I’m just blessed and grateful.”

Hill started the four games Brees missed last season, and the Saints went 3-1. Winston saw action in four regular-season games in 2020 and threw a 56-yard touchdown in the postseason.

Winston opted to re-sign with the Saints in the offseason to compete with Hill for the starting job. He sealed it when he started the second preseason game and went 9-of-10 for 123 yards and two touchdowns against Jacksonville.

“It felt great,” Winston said of being named the starter. “I think the whole training camp, we made each other better and this team grew while we were competing. I was blessed to get the nod, and I’m just grateful for that. I’m grateful for my teammates for pushing me. I’m grateful for Taysom for pushing me and us helping each other get better.”

Winston, 27, made 70 career starts in his five seasons in Tampa. He will make his first start for the Saints on Sunday against the Packers in a game moved to Jacksonville because of Hurricane Ida.

“I wish we were running out in the Superdome, but I’m just going to be excited to play against another opponent for four quarters and play some good football,” Winston said.