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Saints' Derek Carr confident in backup QB Jameis Winston: He's 'a starter in this league'

Derek Carr's shoulder injury means the Saints have to turn to Plan B until he's able to return.

Those hoping for Plan T -- as in Taysom Hill -- however, will be disappointed to hear coach Dennis Allen never considered it an option. Allen told reporters on Wednesday that he did not mull moving Hill to quarterback for this Sunday's game against the Buccaneers.

That means it will continue to be Jameis Winston's show in New Orleans until Carr is able to return. As it stands, Carr is considered week-to-week with a sprained AC joint suffered during the Saints' Week 3 loss to the Packers. Carr pledged on Wednesday he wouldn't return until he's capable of performing at his expected level.

"I do anything and everything I can with my rehab, everything with the trainers, I'm going to do everything I can to be out there with my guys and if I can play, I'll play," Carr said. "If I physically just can't play, then I can't play. But if I'm out there, that means I'm, you know, there's no fear of re-injury, there's no fear of this, there's no fear of being able to help the football team. And so, I'm going to do everything I can to be out there but never hurt the team at the same time."

It sounds as if that time has not yet arrived -- Carr was a DNP on Wednesday. New Orleans will proceed with Winston as its starter for the time being, about which Carr feels confident.

"From what I got to watch; he did a great job," Carr said of Winston's performance against the Packers.

"Jameis is a starter in this league. We have a couple guys that can start NFL football games in our room and Jameis is another one of those guys. Jameis came in -- in practice I take every rep -- and he did a great job of stepping in with no reps and playing good football. As he knows, in that role no matter where you're at, when you're called upon that's the expectation. I thought he did a great job for what he was asked to do, absolutely."

Winston wasn't spectacular in relief of Carr, but did post a solid stat line (10 of 16, 101 passing yards). Unfortunately for both Winston and the Saints, the first five New Orleans possessions with Winston in the lineup resulted in punts, and the final possession ended in the disappointment of a missed field goal, sealing the comeback win for the Packers.

Even if the Saints struggled in the second half with him taking snaps, Winston remains New Orleans' best option if Carr can't play. Arguing otherwise (and in favor of Hill) would require willfully ignoring Hill's last serious outing as a starter: a two-touchdown, two-turnover performance that produced a stunning loss to an underdog Eagles team in 2020 that effectively ended Hill's run as a viable starter for New Orleans.

Allen and the Saints are well aware of what they have in their quarterback room, and kept Winston in New Orleans even after signing Carr in the offseason for this exact scenario. They'll hope a week of preparation will properly prepare Winston for their Week 4 meeting with Winston's old team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, assuming Carr doesn't play.

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