Bucs tight end Kellen Winslow was outspoken on Thursday upon reporting for training camp, saying that the team should re-sign free agents Barrett Ruud and Davin Joseph. Winslow also believes the Bucs still have a lot to prove this upcoming season.
Buccaneers tight end Kellen Winslow met with the media on Thursday as the team reported to training camp at One Buccaneer Place and sounded off on the fact that Tampa Bay has yet to re-sign right guard Davin Joseph or middle linebacker Barrett Ruud.
“I do want to speak upon that it is important to bring back Davin, and I don’t know what is going on with the Barrett Ruud situation, but it would be very disappointing to see him leave,” Winslow said. “He is one of the key leaders on this team and I know the guys in our locker room want him back.”
Re-signing Joseph is believed to be the top priority in free agency, but general manager Mark Dominik’s comments on Tuesday suggest the team is ready to move on from Ruud and go with rookie Mason Foster and third-year player Tyrone McKenzie in the middle of Tampa Bay’s defense. Winslow was surprised by Dominik’s remarks about Ruud’s future with the team.
“Yeah, I mean it’s the business side and it is what it is, but the guys in the locker room – we love Barrett and he is a core guy, a core player here. We would hate to see him leave,” Winslow said.
Ruud and Joseph were among the players that have not reported to One Buc Place for the start of camp, which begins with a walk-through Friday morning followed by an evening practice in front of the fans, but Winslow was excited to be back at the team’s facility, which has been closed to the players during the 132-day NFL lockout this offseason.
“Real glad to be back,” Winslow said. “You know it’s the first couple days back, the first day reporting, but everyone is happy to see each other. I mean, I was watching ESPN like everyone else. The CBA is getting done and I’m just glad to be back on the field with the guys.”
Winslow used to spend the offseason in San Diego working out on his own, but spent this offseason in Tampa participating in the team’s voluntary workouts, including the unofficial three-day mini-camp in Bradenton in late June. The team’s starting tight end who led Tampa Bay in receptions in 2010 with 66 catches for 730 yards and five touchdowns, said that working with quarterback Josh Freeman and the Bucs receivers helped prepare the unit heading into training camp.
“You know, there is one thing about just throwing on air and more into getting into the mental aspect of the game,” Winslow said. “Right now we are going – everyone is going – to be behind on the mental aspect of the game, but we will be fine. Our timing is ahead of where it was last year, so we are going to be good.
“You know, it is hard because we do have a routine and it gets broken for so long, and then you just jump right back into it, so it is good to just get back to the facility and get your bearings right.”
Winslow got to spend a lot of time with Luke Stocker, the team’s fourth-round draft pick, who is slated to be the team’s number two tight end this season. The seventh-year veteran came away impressed with the rookie from Tennessee.
“Yeah, he is going to be a good tight end. He is going to be a good one,” Winslow said.
Winslow did caution that the lack of OTAs (organized team activities) and mini-camps does have the rookies behind the learning curve, and NFL rosters can have as many as 90 players instead of the 80 from years past. There will be plenty of new faces at One Buccaneer Place over the next two weeks during camp that Winslow will have to get to know.
“It is tough to say because we are going to have so many guys in camp,” Winslow said. “So we are going to have to work through that. It is going to be weird more than any other season because we do have so many guys and it’s crammed into a couple weeks here. It is going to be different, but the veterans will lead the young guys and we will get going.”
The rookies and veterans who will be wearing red and pewter this season know that expectations have been raised since last year’s surprising 10-6 record, following a disappointing 3-13 season in 2009. Yet Winslow said the Bucs don’t feel like they have arrived on the scene just yet, especially since Tampa Bay failed to make the playoffs despite a double-digit winning record.
“Well I wouldn’t say people are looking for us,” Winslow said. “You have to prove yourself every year, and really one year does not jump to the next. It is an every year thing and you got to prove yourself, so I don’t think a bull’s eye is on our back or anything. We have a lot to prove.”– Victoria Horchak contributed to this article
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