Saints HC Dennis Allen on QB Jameis Winston (ACL) being able to start Week 1: 'That's certainly the plan'

Jameis Winston is racing back on his road to recovery.

It would seem the quarterback's finish line is the start of the 2022 NFL season.

Speaking this week on "The Rich Eisen Show," first-year New Orleans Saints head coach Dennis Allen said he plans on having Winston under center in Week 1.

"Well, certainly that's certainly the plan," Allen said. "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. Man, I really loved a lot of the things that he did last year for us -- 14 touchdowns, three interceptions. 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."

Winston tore his ACL in Week 8 of the 2021 season, ending his second year with the Saints and his first as their starting quarterback.

But the 2015 No. 1 overall pick was back running on a treadmill at the end of February and then at the onset of free agency re-signed with New Orleans on a two-year pact.

Winston, 28, completed 95 of 161 passes for 1,170 yards, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions last year. Though he wasn't posting staggering numbers, Winston was 5-2 as the Saints' starter and New Orleans went 4-6 without him. A former Pro Bowler and NFL passing yardage and touchdown leader, Winston has always been able to sling it, but his 2021 showing showed he was starting to curb the mistakes he'd been maligned for.

After they were unable to trade for Deshaun Watson and did not select a quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Saints are hitching their offensive wagon to Winston. Thus, they're certainly hoping he's available to kick off the 2022 campaign.

So far, Allen likes the progress Winston has made in his recovery and is confident that the QB's work ethic will push him through.

"I think he's doing well in the rehab process," Allen said. "One of the things you know about Jameis, is Jameis is probably one of the hardest workers that I've been around. He's just got a tireless work ethic and he loves football. And that's his life. Everything is all about ball to him. He's working his tail off and really doing a really good job in the rehab and I like where he's at."

Where Winston is at now is on the mend. Where Allen is aiming for him to be at the season's onset is starting for a Saints squad that will also hopefully be welcoming back wide receiver Michael Thomas to team with first-round pick Chris Olave on the outside. They're also likely to have Taysom Hill, who Winston beat out for the starting job in a 2021 training camp competition, at tight end, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram at running back amidst a mix of old and new.

There's optimism for the offense ahead, but as Allen pointed out, there's a lot of time before Week 1 and a long road of recovery still ahead for Winston.

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