TAMPA — Jameis Winston was excited to be back with his teammates at One Buc Place Monday beginning the first phase of the off-season workout program.
"It means everything, because it's back to football," Winston said. "It's back to that team, getting that camaraderie right and it's the start of a new season, so it's very exciting.
"You can't really describe it. I think everyone is anxious and everybody wants to get out there and give it a go. Like I said, man, we're just happy to be back playing football."
But when Winston will be able to step on the field in a regular-season game for the Bucs still is unknown. The NFL's investigation of Winston for possible misconduct is into its fifth month with no resolution in sight.
Winston has been accused of groping an Arizona female Uber driver in March 2016 and the league launched its probe last November. Winston has maintained his innocence and former Florida State teammate and Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby said he was with Winston in the backseat of the car and nothing occurred.
But Winston confirmed Monday he has not yet been interviewed by the NFL as part of its investigation. General manager Jason Licht and coach Dirk Koetter have expressed frustration over the slow pace of the inquiry. Winston could face suspension under the league's broad player conduct policy.
"Well, I know the NFL has a process they have to go through and I respect that process," Winston said. "That's not my job to speculate on that process. My focus has been with this organization, getting the guys back in here and focusing on what we can do to be a better team this offseason."
Winston has focused on preparing his body for the rigors of a 16-game NFL regular season. He missed three games with a shoulder injury in 2017.
Winston had also organized private workouts with Bucs receivers, throwing with Mike Evans at Texas A&M and last week with DeSean Jackson at Florida State.
"My process, I've been focusing on this offseason and just working hard," Winston said. "Getting guys together. I went to Texas A&M. Recently, went to Florida State and had some good work with our guys and just getting ready like I do every off-season."
Winston said he was grateful for the full-throated confidence in him expressed by co-chairman Joel Glazer at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando last month.
"It meant a lot to me because I know my work ethic for this organization, for this team is unparalleled," Winston said . "You know, every day I walk in this building, I'm trying to be the best I can possibly be and be the best for this organization so to have support of ownership, it really inspires me to continue to work hard and continue to be the leader that I am."