With the Buccaneers reporting to training camp this week, one of the biggest storylines in Tampa Bay revolves around Jameis Winston and how he's going to handle the scrutiny that comes along with his three-game suspension.
The punishmentin late June after the league conducted a seven-month investigation and found that Winston violated the personal conduct policy by allegedly touching an Arizona-based Uber driver in "an inappropriate and sexual manner."
On Thursday, Winston met with the media for the first time since his suspension was handed down, and the quarterback revealed that one of the first things he did after arriving at training camp was apologize to his teammates.
"Initially I talked to my teammates first; I acknowledged them [Wednesday], but I apologized after that," Winston said, via NFL.com. "I don't want to be a distraction. I just want to be able to focus on the season and move forward."
The Buccaneers quarterback also had a message for the fans who aren't happy with him right now.
"I understand they're disappointed; I'm disappointed. I should have never put myself in that situation," Winston said. "I tell the fans to continue to support this team, continue to support me because I've been here. My main goal as a leader is to be a huge advocate in the community and I've done that and I want to continue to do that."
Although Winston's goal is be a leader this year, Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter doesn't see his quarterback playing the same leadership role that he's played in the past. Due to his incident and suspension, Koetter said that Winston is going to have to lead "from the rear" this year.
"I think your team has a lot of leaders, and being a leader starts with being a leader of yourself," Koetter said. "I think that's one of Jameis' strengths as a football player, is his leadership. But where we're standing right now with the three-game suspension, it's time that Jameis leads from the rear. And there's nothing wrong with that."
Koetter answered multiple questions about his quarterback on Thursday, including one about whether or not Winstononce the suspension was over. Although it's still early, the Bucs' coach was unwilling to commit to Winston after his suspension.
"Week 4 is a long ways away," Koetter said, via JoeBucsFan.com. "So, you know, let's worry about Week 4 in Week 4. Right now, let's worry about preseason and getting ready for the Saints."
As for Winston, one thing he wouldn't talk about was the specifics of the incident with the Uber driver. Back in November, an Uber driver alleged that Winston grabbed her crotch while the two were waiting in the drive-thru of a Mexican restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona on March 13, 2016. The driver told BuzzFeed News that Winston "reached over" and "just grabbed my crotch." The driver also added that Winston kept his hand in place for three to five seconds and didn't remove it until she asked him, "What's up with that?"
At the time, Winston. When asked about his denial on Thursday, Winston was in no mood to talk about any details of the case.
"I don't want to rehash the situation. I want to focus on moving forward. That's all I can do," Winston said. "I've grown and learned from this situation. It's a learning experience. [I've worked] hard since I got here and I'm going to continue to work hard on and off the field."
Despite the suspension, Winston is allowed to participate in all of training camp, along with the Buccaneers' four preseason games. The 24-year-old's suspension won't kick in until after Tampa's final preseason game on Aug. 30.