After Saturday's practice more than 50 athletes from Special Olympics Florida representing Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Polk counties participated in passing and receiving drills with members of the Bucs, including QB Jameis Winston, RB Doug Martin and CB Alterraun Verner.
"Man, it takes your mind off everything. You feel their energy. They're playing. They're having fun," Winston said. "You just see what life's all about. We had some great guys out there. You can learn so much from them, just from the way they do things. They're always smiling and I'm thinking about, 'Man, I'm out here all day, after practice.' But they're not even thinking about that. They're just thinking, 'Let's have fun, and let's enjoy each other.' "
Winston's photo may cover one corner of nearby Raymond James Stadium, but there were some among the Special Olympians who didn't know the guy wearing the orange No. 3 jersey.
"It feels good when they're like, 'Who are you again?' I'm like, yes, we can actually have a true friendship," Winston said. "So it's cool."
Ready to play
The Bucs are off today then have two days of practice before traveling Wednesday to Philadelphia for Thursday's preseason opener against the Eagles. When asked if he will be able to take a true break from football on the off day, Winston said, "There is no stepping away. … You just try to peel back a little bit. You can't step away from it. It's a constant football grind." When asked if he was ready to play a game, even if it's just preseason, he said, "I'm ready to play against another team. That's the case for everybody."
(8:45-10:50 a.m., unless noted)
Monday, Tuesday, Aug. 13, Aug. 15, Aug. 24 (9:45-11:50, practice with Browns)
Note: Admission, parking free at One Buc Place. Times subject to change. Check buccaneers.com for updates.
Thurs.at Eagles, 7, Ch. 8
Aug. 20at Jaguars, 7:30, Ch. 8
Aug. 26Browns, 8, Ch. 10
Sept. 1Redskins, 7:30, Ch. 8
Roger Mooney, Times staff writer