Both Vilma and Winslow played together at Miami, and faced each other in practice. The Hurricanes had some legendary seven-on-seven practice sessions that the players organized and ran themselves in the summers leading up to training camp. Winslow garnered a lot early buzz in his Miami career with how he performed against Vilma, a former first-round pick, and some other great Hurricane defenders in those player-only practices.
The Saints' Vilma and the Bucs' Winslow will have the first of two battles in 2009 this Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. Not only will Winslow play Vilma, New Orleans tight end Jeremy Shockey was an upperclassmen when Winslow first came to Miami. Winslow was asked if he was eager to have a re-match against Vilma this Sunday.
"Yeah, Jeremy Shockey, [quarterback] Drew Brees, it is going to be fun," Winslow said. "It is going to be exciting, a lot of athletes, and a bunch of all-stars out there on that defense and that offense."
The Bucs traded a second-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for Winslow at the beginning of free agency. For the season Winslow (6-4, 240) leads the Buccaneers in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. He has 42 catches for 454 yards and five touchdowns. Winslow said that he had the edge over his old college teammate in those seven-on-seven sessions.
"You can ask Vilma, man. Vilma couldn't guard me. D.J. [Williams] couldn't guard me. Sean Taylor couldn't guard me, respect, but none of those guys could guard me," Winslow said. "It is what it is. They'll tell you the same thing. Vilma probably won't, but yeah, I owned those guys."
Winslow, 26, was told that the media would be sure to write his comments, and he saw humor in it.
"All in fun," Winslow said laughing.
Winslow talked about how Vilma and the Saints defense would be a tough task for the Bucs offense. New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has a reputation of being very aggressive with blitz packages that confound offenses.
"They give you a lot of looks," said Winslow. "They give you a lot of different looks, a lot of different coverages, and a lot of different blitzes trying to confuse you and mess up your protections. We have a big challenge."