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Saints' Jameis Winston Starting Week 1 'Certainly the Plan,' Dennis Allen Says

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 7, 2022

AP Photo/John Froschauer, File

New Orleans Saints head coach Dennis Allen is hopeful Jameis Winston will be ready to serve as the team's starting quarterback for Week 1 of the 2022 season.

Winston suffered a torn ACL in an Oct. 31 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He re-signed with the Saints in March on a two-year, $28 million contract, and Allen confirmed Thursday on the Rich Eisen Show (via Grant Gordon of NFL.com) things are trending in a positive direction.

"Well, certainly that's certainly the plan," Allen said about Winston leading the offense in Week 1. "There's a lot of days between now and Week 1, but we certainly like where he's at right now. We like the progress that he's making."

The 28-year-old Florida State product was off to a promising start last season after taking the reins of the offense for the retired Drew Brees. He completed 59 percent of his throws for 1,170 yards with 14 touchdowns and just three interceptions in seven games.

His limited number of turnovers was a great sign after throwing 30 picks in 16 games with the Bucs in 2019 in his last extended run of starts.

"Man, I really loved a lot of the things that he did last year for us—14 touchdowns, three interceptions," Allen said. "There was just some really good stuff that you see. And my vision and my hope is that he continues to progress on the same level as he gets another year in the system."

The Saints brought in veteran Andy Dalton as an insurance policy in case Winston's recovery doesn't progress as expected, and they also have 2021 fourth-round pick Ian Book on the roster as a developmental option.

Taysom Hill, who lost the competition to Winston in the bid to replace Brees, has switched to tight end on a full-time basis. He brings the most value to New Orleans as a multifaceted playmaker rather than a backup quarterback.

A healthy Winston combined with Hill in his do-it-all role and a group of playmakers that includes Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, Michael Thomas, Chris Olave and Marquez Callaway should give the Saints plenty of offensive upside in 2022.

The outlook wouldn't be as favorable with Dalton or Book under center.

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