PewterReport.com has learned that Buccaneers tight end Kellen Winslow was not at One Buccaneer Place on Monday because he is recovering from offseason knee surgery. The surgery is believed to be Winslow’s fifth operation on his right knee in the last six years.
Sources close to the situation say the knee surgery was a minor arthroscopic procedure that likely cleaned out some excess scar tissue from previous surgeries stemming from a motorcycle crash in 2005 when he was a member of the Cleveland Browns. Winslow tore his anterior cruciate ligament in that crash and had two surgeries prior to having microfracture surgery on his right knee in 2007.
Microfracture surgery is a procedure that involves drilling holes into a part of the bone in the knee to produce blood that can be used to form scar tissue to replace damaged or dissolved cartilage. Citing various media reports on February 24, 2008, ESPN.com reported that Winslow had undergone at least four surgeries on his right knee between 2005-08, including the microfracture procedure. Winslow’s most recent offseason surgery this year would make it the fifth.
The last two procedures after the microfracture operation, including the knee surgery this offseason, were to remove some of the excess scar tissue that can cause some soreness and inflammation. The Bucs do not believe this most recent surgery will impede Winslow in any way in 2010.
During Monday’s press conference, Bucs head coach Raheem Morris hinted to the fact that Winslow was rehabbing an injury. PewterReport.com was able to confirm that it was knee surgery on Monday night.
"Those guys will be here," said Morris when asked about the absences of Winslow and running back Derrick Ward during Monday’s OTA session. "Obviously it is voluntary. Ward and Winslow have been around a little bit in the offseason program. We've seen them around. They are both working out through injuries – former injuries – getting healthy. I got a feeling you'll see those guys shortly."
Bucs center Jeff Faine, who played with Winslow in Cleveland in 2004 and currently with him in Tampa Bay, has seen what the athletic tight end has to go through with his knee in order to prepare to practice and play through the soreness and swelling.
“I don’t know if there is a guy that prepares harder on this team than him,” Faine said. “He was that way before his injuries, but a lot of it is him having to prepare a certain way because of the injuries in his past. He has to prepare the way he does, otherwise he won’t be able to produce the way he does. Otherwise those injuries will come back to haunt him.”
Winslow, who will turn 27 in July, is coming off a record year in his first season in Tampa Bay in which he caught 77 passes for 884 yards and five touchdowns after being acquired from Cleveland in a trade on February 27, 2009. The Bucs gave up a second-round choice in 2009 and a fifth-round selection in 2010 for Winslow, who was promptly made the NFL’s highest-paid tight end with a six-year contract extension worth as much as $42.1 million with certain incentives, including $20.1 million in guaranteed money.â€¨â€¨
The University of Miami product has played in all 16 games in three of his six years in the NFL, including his first season in Tampa Bay. In his career, Winslow has 296 receptions for 3,343 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Provided he is healthy, Winslow is expected to once again become the focal point in Tampa Bay’s passing attack in 2010.