TAMPA — Kellen Winslow arrived at One Buc Place on Monday, having missed all team workouts thus far. In fact, he said he won't be ready to return to the field until training camp.
For Winslow, the focus again is on his right knee, which was hidden under a long, black compression sleeve after a sixth surgery in as many NFL seasons.
Pain is constant for the Bucs tight end, who despite all those stitches still wants to help sew up a championship.
"It feels good. It's just something I deal with every day," Winslow said of his right knee. "I'm not going to let these guys down, though. … It's an everyday thing. … But I've been through worse and I'll be back and I'll do my job and my thing."
The Bucs have said Winslow's most recent surgery was a relatively minor arthroscopic procedure. Winslow didn't want to give specifics.
"You guys can speculate,'' he said. "It's my sixth one. But you can't stop me, you know what I mean? So I'll be back."
Winslow has kept with his routine of training in San Diego and appeared, as usual, in excellent physical shape. He jogged lightly Monday and wore a protective sleeve on his right leg. But he will not participate in the minicamp beginning next week.
"It was just time to get back," said Winslow, who turns 27 next month. "I've been training back in San Diego real hard and this is all I think about, man, is getting out here with these guys and the coaches. I just want to be right when I do come back. It's just important for me to rehab strong in the offseason."
With the Bucs offense under Greg Olson, Winslow said he has some studying to do on the terminology.
"The basics are the same," Winslow said. "My head is spinning right now, but I'll be fine. It'll take a couple weeks and I'll be here until training camp working."
When Winslow is healthy, there are few better tight ends. Last season, after being obtained from the Browns for a second- and fifth-round draft pick, he led the Bucs in receiving with 77 catches for 884 yards and five touchdowns.
Winslow looks to build on his chemistry with quarterback Josh Freeman, who started the final nine games in 2009.
"He looks good. It's just my job to catch up," Winslow said. "He is going to be fine. Just as long as I do my job he will get the ball there."
Winslow said he looks forward to facing Cleveland in Tampa in the regular-season opener.
"It's going to be fun playing against some of the old guys and that organization," he said. "I loved playing for Cleveland. It was fun times and we had some bad times there, but it's going to be fun."
Winslow wasn't the only player not practicing. While first-round pick Gerald McCoy returned from a minor hip strain, rookie receiver Arrelious Benn sat out after suffering an ankle injury Thursday. Cornerback Aqib Talib, safety Tanard Jackson and defensive tackle Brian Price also did not practice.
Price, a second-round pick from UCLA, had been prohibited from attending until the completion of his academic year. But Price pulled a hamstring at the rookie minicamp in early May and the Bucs are being cautious.
"I'm happy to be out here," Price said. "The hamstring is coming along. Just being cautious, taking it day by day and I'm feeling better."