Saints QB Jameis Winston feeling ‘stronger’ in return to practice from ACL tear

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Jameis Winston’s return from a torn ACL has flown under the radar this offseason. That’s a good thing for the New Orleans Saints, who expect to compete for a postseason bid in Dennis Allen’s first season as head coach.

Winston was held out of offseason work in the spring as a precaution after he missed the final 10 games of the regular season due to the knee injury. He was back on the field as the Saints kicked off training camp.

Winston said Wednesday that his return is “still going to be a progression.” However, he noted he was actually ready to practice during minicamp, but the team took a cautious approach.

“I would say I got more explosive (since minicamp),” he said, via the team’s official website. “I was good, I was ready to go right then. But it’s a progression. The healing process really never stops. I feel stronger right now, but with practice increasing, I know I’ve got to harp on a couple of things and continue to build.”

The Saints will monitor Winston’s return, but the QB said he’s not on a pitch count during camp.

“No,” he said. “I’m sorry, no. That’s not going to be the case.”

New Orleans’ entire offseason has indicated it believes, with a stout defense and the return of key offensive pieces, it can contend for a title in the first season without Sean Payton.

Winston is a huge part of the puzzle. When healthy, he proved he could move the offense last season. Veteran Andy Dalton was signed as a backup.

Less than nine months since suffering the ACL tear, Winston avoiding setbacks at this stage is a great sign, especially for a Saints team that has dealt with lingering injuries in the past.

Michael Thomas, who returned to camp after missing all of last season, is looking forward to developing chemistry with Winston as the season approaches.

“Jameis, he’s a competitor,” Thomas said. “He’s the ultimate competitor. He always shows up ready to work. It’s like, you’re not gonna outwork him. You’re not going to deny him. He brings that energy and passion and you just feed off that. I’m excited to play with him and I’m excited to help him move the chains.”

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