Saints QB Jameis Winston says not playing 'hurts my soul'

METAIRIE, La. -- New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston said he didn't think he would permanently lose his starting job to Andy Dalton after getting injured early in the season.

But the job is Dalton's for at least another week after Saints coach Dennis Allen announced Wednesday that he wouldn't be making a switch.

Dalton has been the starting quarterback since the Saints' game against the Minnesota Vikings in London on Oct. 2. Allen hinted at the beginning of this week that he was considering a quarterback change because of offensive struggles for the past two games, but he ultimately decided against it.

Winston said he was under the impression that he would eventually return as the starter after a conversation with Allen in London. Allen said at the time that he was resting Winston to allow his back and foot injuries to heal, but he decided Dalton would be the starter a few weeks later, as long as the offense continued to perform well.

"I lost my job due to injury and the policy has always been you don't lose your job due to injury. And that's what happened," Winston said.

Winston, who injured his back in Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons, admitted that he probably should not have played the following week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but wanted to be out there. The Bucs not only drafted him with the first pick in the 2015 NFL draft, but Winston was also playing against them when he tore an ACL last season.

Winston said that's not the case now, as he feels he's healthy enough to play. Allen said it was unlikely Winston would be 100% this season, but Winston said he's been getting better since he's not playing.

"I'm healing up. I haven't been playing. This is the best healing I can get," Winston said.

Winston said it has been a difficult season for him, but he's trying to focus on being a leader from the sidelines.

"What's going on right now is what I've got to deal with right now and focus on right now. I'll handle what's going on right now, and when that time comes for me to eventually come back on the field, which hopefully it will, I'm going to support Andy, I'm going to support this offense, I'm going to support everyone on this offensive staff the best I possibly can, and that's it," Winston said. "Because, like I said, I wear that shirt that says, 'Big team, little me,' even though it hurts my heart. It hurts my soul the way things have turned out to be this year, but it is what it is."

He added: "I owe it to this team to be in the role that I'm right now, to this offense, to everyone. I apologize to the fans. I know some of them want to see me out there. But I think winning makes a lot of things better, so we need to go out there and start with this week, get a win as a team. No one person makes a team win. We need to get a team win and I think we'll all be better at the end of the day."

Winston is one on a long list of players who likely will not be playing against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. Saints veteran defensive end Cameron Jordan, who has never missed a game because of injury in his 12-year career (he missed his first game last year against the New York Jets because of the COVID-19 protocol), will sit this game with an eye injury.

Jordan said that he played most of last week's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers with one of his eyes almost swollen shut.

"Maaaan unreal. Smh control what you can control," he posted to his Twitter account on Thursday. Jordan did not practice all week after the game.

The Saints also will not have defensive end Marcus Davenport, safety J.T. Gray, left tackle James Hurst, running back Mark Ingram II, cornerback Marshon Lattimore and linebacker Pete Werner. Left guard Andrus Peat, who missed last week's game, is questionable.