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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Jameis Winston's top leaders: Brady, Rodgers, Kuechly, Ray Lewis

Demoyne Stoney, 10, and Anthony Gonzalez, 11, pose with Jameis Winston after getting his new Sprayground backpack signed at International Plaza on Thursday. Stoney and Gonzalez, who play together on the Seffner Seahawks youth football team, waited four hours to be among the first in line for Winston's autograph.

GREG AUMAN | TIMES

Demoyne Stoney, 10, and Anthony Gonzalez, 11, pose with Jameis Winston after getting his new Sprayground backpack signed at International Plaza on Thursday. Stoney and Gonzalez, who play together on the Seffner Seahawks youth football team, waited four hours to be among the first in line for Winston's autograph.

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July

As Jameis Winston continues to grow as a leader with the Bucs entering his third season, who are the other NFL leaders he admires and respects most?

"Everybody leads in their own way," Winston said Thursday before signing backpacks for fans at an event at International Plaza. "For me, as a leader, you have to continue to learn from everyone. Ultimately, you've got the (Tom) Bradys, you've got your Aaron Rodgers, you've got your defensive guys like Luke Kuechly, and one of my favorite leaders of all time in this game is Ray Lewis. Ray Lewis did it the best, with his passion and his drive to motivate his teammates."

Winston and the Bucs will face the first three of those this upcoming season, with Brady and the Patriots coming to Tampa, the Bucs going to Rodgers and Green Bay in December, and facing Kuechly's Panthers twice after pulling off a season sweep last season. It's a difficult schedule as the Bucs try to improve on a 9-7 mark that just missed the playoffs last season, but Winston said the schedule is actually one of the things he's most excited about as the 2017 season approaches.

"I'm just excited for the season, excited to get into camp so we can get that bonding together," he said. "I'm excited for us to play this schedule we have. This schedule is amazing. And I'm excited for the city of Tampa to be on our backs so we can ride them to a lot of victories this year."

Winston has kept a busy schedule in recent weeks -- spending time with kids at youth events and football camps in Tampa, in his native Alabama, even in Michigan with Carolina's Devin Funchess, a friend who helped out at Winston's camp in Tampa. He spent two days in Miami at baseball's All-Star game, spending time with former FSU star Buster Posey and former Rays manager Joe Maddon, among others.

Donovan Smith stopped by Winston's backpack event (here's a Winston video), and both of them were at Topgolf in Tampa with running back Charles Sims and Patriots star Rob Gronkowski. Winston said he'll take it easy over the next two weeks, getting himself rested and fully prepared for veterans reporting to training camp July 27.

[Last modified: Friday, July 14, 2017 12:52am]

    

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