Buccaneers tight end Kellen Winslow is back to work at One Buc Place. Tampa Bay's leading receiver had missed all of the team's voluntary workouts (OTAs) in the past weeks, but returned to observe practice on Monday. Winslow was not practicing but was throwing passes, listening in to the huddle, and shadowing the tight ends on the practice field. This offseason Winslow had another surgery on his right knee.
"It's just time to get back. I've been training back in San Diego real hard and this is all I think about man," said Winslow. "Just getting out here with these guys, with the coaches and I just want to be right when I do come back. So, it's just important for me to rehab strong in the offseason and this is something that I have done in the past. I don't really do OTAs. I go back to San Diego and I train real hard with my trainer Todd Dirkens, so it's nothing new.
"I'm feeling good. I'll be ready for camp."
Winslow led Tampa Bay with 77 receptions for 884 yards and five touchdowns in 2009. After playing in 16 games for the third time in his six-year career Winslow needed another surgical procedure on his right knee.
"It is something I deal with everyday," said Winslow. "It is an everyday thing. It really is. It is not easy by any means necessary, but I've been through worse, and I'll be back and do my job.
"I'm not going to talk about that. You guys can speculate. It's my sixth one, but it can't stop me."
Winslow said that he is eager for Week 1 when he plays his former team, the Cleveland Browns. Early in free agency in March of 2009 the Buccaneers traded a second-round pick and a fifth-round pick for Winslow. The Browns drafted Winslow with the sixth-overall pick in the 2004 draft out of Miami. Winslow is eager to match up against his former teammates although Cleveland has had a lot of turnover in the time since Winslow left.
"It's going to be fun playing versus some of the old guys," Winslow said. "That organization; they love playing for Cleveland and the Browns organization. There was fun times and I had some bad times, but it's going to be fun and I think we play them here so they have to come down to the heat, so it'll be fun."
Currently Winslow is trying to catch up with his teammates on the changes in the Bucs offense. Tampa Bay acquired three new wide receivers in Reggie Brown, Arrelious Benn, and Mike Williams to play around Winslow. The veteran tight end is focused on the mental part of the game more than watching his new teammates right now.
"I've heard a lot of good things. Again, this is my first day back so I really wasn't watching the young guys out there. I was just trying to learn the offense," said Winslow.
"Just some terminology things, but the basics are the same. My head is spinning right now, but I'll be fine. It will take a couple of weeks and I'll be here until training camp working so I'll be coming back."
Winslow said he likes the progress he has seen out of second-year quarterback Josh Freeman. The Bucs leading passer and receiver in 2009 believe that they will have no issues with rekindling the chemistry they developed in the final nine games of the season when Freeman became the starter.
"He looks good. It's just my job to catch up," said Winslow. "He is going to be fine. Just as long as I do my job he will get the ball there. Everyone does their job we will be just fine, so I can just really worry about me and he is going to do great things."
Running back Derrick Ward and rookie defensive tackle Gerald McCoy both practiced. McCoy had a minor hip strain last Thursday and that caused him to miss most of that OTA. Benn did not practice after sustaining an injury last Thursday. The injury looked to be with his ankle. Another receiver that has not returned to practice is Mario Urrutia. He is nursing a turf toe injury.
The Bucs had some notable players missing from Monday's practice. Cornerback Aqib Talib, safety Tanard Jackson, and defensive tackle Brian Price were not practicing. The UCLA product Price had been prevented from attending the OTAs due to NFL rules forcing players to wait for their colleges to complete the academic year. Price is now back with the team at One Buc Place but is working on an injured hamstring with the training staff. The second-round pick Price pulled his hamstring during the rookie mini-camp in early May.
"I'm happy to be out here. I'm blessed and I'm just taking it one day at a time," said Price. "The hamstring is coming along. Just being cautious, taking it day by day and I'm feeling better."
While Price was forced to stay back at California he said he was rehabbing his hamstring and was able to start jogging. Price wasn't sure if he would be cleared to practice at the team's mandatory mini-camp that starts next Monday.
"I'm just listening to the trainer and the coaches, whatever they say," said Price. "I'm just taking it one day at a time. Right now I'm working out here and feeling good."
Price said that it was difficult to be back in Los Angeles while his teammates were practicing. During the time away Price said he got a good grasp of the Buccaneers playbook.
"It's hard because you have to sit at home while everyone else is out here. You just count the days down and are anxious. I have a good support system back at home and I stayed busy just rehabbing," said Price. "They sent me film and stuff like that. I got my contact numbers from some players and we just stayed in contact."
One player that Price stayed in touch with was McCoy. After taking McCoy with the third-overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Buccaneers surprised many by taking another defensive tackle in Price. While with the team after the draft and during the rookie mini-camp the team had McCoy and Price as roommates. The rookies kept in touch while Price was away in his forced exile.
"He said he was doing pretty good [in practice]," said Price. "I ate lunch with him yesterday and we talk to each other all the time, so he said he was doing good."
MORRIS CANCELS TUESDAY'S PRACTICE
Bucs head coach Raheem Morris made a wager with his team during Monday's practice. Morris randomly chose right tackle Jeremy Trueblood to field a punt. If Trueblood caught the punt then Tuesday's practice would be canceled. If Trueblood muffed the punt the team would be back to work on Tuesday. Trueblood made a juggling catch while falling to his knees to spare his teammates of an OTA.
"If I caught it we didn't have practice tomorrow. If I dropped it we did. So, I had a lot of pressure for somebody who has never fielded a punt before," said Trueblood. "I was taking a knee no matter what. I did have little trouble. I bobbled it, but I caught it. That's all that matters."
After catching the punt Trueblood said he had a new respect for the Bucs pro bowl returner Clifton Smith.
"I feel for Peanut (Clifton Smith) now because there is a lot of turning and moving going on up there so it is harder than it looks," said Trueblood.
Buccaneers veteran cornerback Ronde Barber dismissed any concerns that the team should be practicing rather than getting the day off, and said the Bucs have been more productive in this year's OTAs than other years in his career.
"We can always afford a day off," said Barber. "We have four weeks of training camp. In my head, these are bonus days. Not everyone is here. Some guys have some other commitments, but we are working. We are getting ahead of everything. We got more stuff now than we ever had in the past, which is a good thing. It taxes you somewhat mentally, but that is what these days are for."
Barber said that the Bucs get an idea of what they have for the 2010 season in the OTA practices, but the sessions and next week's mandatory mini-camp don't deliver real answers.
"Intensity goes up a little next week," said Barber. "You guys get to talk about that everyone has to be here. But, these days you are just figuring out who you have. You want to know if your third or fourth corner can actually play. You want to find out if your draft picks are who you thought they were. You don't really find that out until camp with the pads on, but you at least get a feel."
Barber is entering his 14th season with the Buccaneers and is the last player on the roster that was part of the team's Super Bowl Championship team in 2002. Coming off of a 3-13 campaign in 2009, Barber was asked how the team is different thus far in 2010.
"We are still young. Very young," said Barber. "I wouldn't necessarily say that is a bad thing. It's just a lot of energy. It feels almost like a college atmosphere somewhat with just the look of the guys, but I think that could be a good thing. I think we can rally around the young guys that we are really counting on. You kind of feel like you are doing something together, so I'm excited about that."
RING OF HONOR ANNOUNCEMENT ON WEDNESDAY
Tampa Bay will hold a press conference on Wednesday afternoon to announce the next addition to the team's Ring of Honor. The Buccaneers will also announce which game they are going to wear their throwback uniforms.
Last season the Bucs introduced the Ring of Honor with Hall-of-Fame defensive end Lee Roy Selmon as the first player to be honored. On the same day Tampa Bay honored the 1979 team and wore their 1976 uniforms, the Bucs defeated the Green Bay Packers 38-28 in Freeman's first pro start.
Some of the rumored candidates for the new member of the Ring of Honor are quarterback Doug Williams and running back Ricky Bell.
BUCS TO PROVIDE KITCHEN COACHING
On Tuesday night from 6:30-8:00 PM some Bucs alumni will be taking part in a kitchen coaching event hosted by Publix. Some Buccaneers alumni will help five families with a mother currently battling cancer to learn how to cook meals. The Publix is located at 7835 Gunn Highway in Tampa, FL 33626.
~ Wolf Heard contributed to this report