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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Kellen Winslow vows to join new teammates next week

Bucs fans, Kellen Winslow hears you.

He knows many have wondered what to make of his absence during the first two days of voluntary offseason workouts last week, prompting him to address those concerns today in an interview with the Times.

Winslow said his still-incomplete move to the Tampa area has been the main reason for his absence last week and this week. He vowed to be in attendance beginning May 26, when the Bucs begin a third week of workouts at One Buc Place.

Winslow said he consulted with coach Raheem Morris beforehand and said even ownership was made aware he would not be in attendance for the first five sessions of the offseason.

Though he isn't working with his teammates in their non-contact drills, Winslow stressed the fact that he is continuing his punishing personal workouts, something he does each offseason. He vowed to arrive in shape, ready to perform.

"Fans are going to have opinions, but if you know me, you know I'm working my butt off," Winslow said. "I live in San Diego. I want to be there and I will be there."

Winslow isn't oblivious to his public image. He knows there remain many who are skeptical about whether he has matured as he has said, especially after the Bucs signed him to a lucrative long-term contract that includes $20 million in guarantees.

"Fans have a right to feel the way they want," he said. But Winslow is quietly hoping a fresh start in Tampa will help him change attitudes. He's already trying to become part of the community with his June football camp, for which he says he will sponsor 150 kids from a local Boys' and Girls' Club.

Winslow also addressed the subject of NFL Network commentator and former Tampa Bay defensive lineman Warren Sapp, who made light of Winslow's absence on the first day of OTAs (offseason team activities). Attending practice that day, Sapp told reporters, "When your team fires up OTAs and you're not here, I guess you're being misunderstood again, right? Your past doesn't equal your future, but it will damn sure give me some reflection of what you might do. I'll leave it at that."

Winslow said he called Sapp later that day and explained the situation and, according to Winslow, Sapp apologized and said he understood Winslow's position.

"We talked it out," Winslow said.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:33pm]


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