TAMPA — As the Bucs opened their voluntary mini-camp, one fixture of the organization was noticeably absent.
Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy — who remains under contract with the team, but it appears that he will be traded or released — was one of five players on the current roster who weren’t at Tuesday’s workout at the Advent Health Training Center.
"It's up to him," Bucs coach Bruce Arians said. "We have open arms. If he wants to be here practicing with us, great. He's on contract and part of the team. That's a player's decision."
Asked whether McCoy was told not to attend the mini-camp, Arians said that wasn't the case, adding, "I don't know who in the hell said that."
McCoy is working out on his own in California with trainer Todd Durkin, posting video on his Instagram account.
"We know Gerald's working," quarterback Jameis Winston said. "This guy is one of the best players in this franchise. I think he's done earned his stripes. He don't really have anything to prove on that field with us. He probably would have taken a vet day anyway."
Winston said he’s been in contact with McCoy on a weekly basis. They exchange Bible scriptures and have been coordinating an upcoming charity event in Tampa.
“I would love to be Gerald McCoy’s teammate,” Winston said. “I’m just supporting him as a teammate. It’s his decision, it’s this organization’s decision, but I’m supporting him as a teammate. I love who he is as a person. He’s a great leader to this organization for this team. We’ve got to focus on what we have here right now. We know he’s going to be professional with his business, but we have to control what we can control.”
Other than McCoy, linebacker Lavonte David, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, offensive tackle Demar Dotson, offensive tackle Donovan Smith were absent Tuesday. Arians said that two of the four had been excused because of pregnancies. Linebacker Kendell Beckwith, who missed the entire season last year following a car accident, was also out.
Wide receiver Chris Godwin, safety Justin Evans, linebacker Jack Cichy, linebacker Shaquil Barrett, offensive lineman Evan Smith and tight end Cameron Brate were held out of practice. Arians said Godwin was out because he just had a dental procedure.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at [email protected] Follow @EddieInTheYard.