Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Kellen Winslow was missing one thing as he caught passes from quarterback Josh Freeman this week.
Winslow ran several patterns with precision and ease. He visualized defenders and fought them off before hauling in one catch after another. There was nothing Winslow could not do during a practice organized by Freeman to keep players sharp during the NFL lockout.
For the first time in years, Winslow was without pain in his right knee.
"I feel good," Winslow said. "Last year, I was hurting for whatever reason. I know how to rehab my knee better. I feel good now. I feel as ready as I can be right now."
Winslow's knee feels so good, he did not have it scoped this offseason. The last time he went without that traditional offseason procedure, he thinks, was in 2008.
One reason for Winslow's newfound health is his learning to use a knee simulation machine more effectively.
"I was using it the wrong way, so it was affecting my knee in a certain way," Winslow said. "That was what was going on last year when I was hurting and why I wasn't practicing in training camp.
"I was hurting, but I've learned how to basically use the machine better, so my knee feels better."
Winslow had 66 receptions for 730 yards and five touchdowns last season despite knee problems. Freeman looks forward to seeing what his tight end can accomplish while being pain free.
"He's a good team guy," Freeman said. "He's a great guy to have on your team. We're training and getting together a lot. It's great to see him."
Winslow could have trained in San Diego, where he resides, to prepare for the upcoming season, but committed to working out with Freeman this offseason.
In the future, Winslow plans to work out at the University of Miami with several alumni, including Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis), Andre Johnson (Houston) and Jeremy Shockey (Carolina). Winslow is trying to convince Freeman to take the trip with him because he loves the close relationship they are developing.
"I'm in the perfect place," Winslow said.
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