TAMPA, Fla. -- With the Buccaneers reporting to training camp Wednesday and starting quarterback Jameis Winston not scheduled to speak until Thursday, Winston's teammates spent the day fielding difficult questions about Winston's upcoming three-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
It was the first time any of the players had spoken publicly about Winston since the NFL said last month its investigation found the Buccaneers quarterback inappropriately touched a female Uber driver in March 2016 in Scottsdale, Arizona.
"We just know that it was a silly mistake back in the day," linebacker Lavonte David said. "It was a silly mistake, man. He knows it, we know it. He knows what he's done. He's gonna learn from it because from whenever it happened until now, he's matured a lot."
When David was asked to clarify if he really thought what Winston did was, in fact a "silly mistake," considering that Winston previously had been investigated for (but not charged with) sexual assault in 2012 as a student at Florida State, David elaborated that he thought the incident with the Uber driver was a "bad judgment call."
"I know him personally. I know he's not that type of person, from what I've seen, from what we've talked about, things like that," David said. "I know he's a guy trying to become the best leader he can be. He's engaged to his fiancé [Breion Allen] and he just had a newborn son. He's just trying to be the best role model for his son. I know it happened a long time ago. It was a bad decision made by him. But I'm positive, I'm 100 percent sure that he's learned from it."
Offensive guard Ali Marpet said that he was surprised to learn about the suspension, and that Winston reached out to him personally prior to it hitting the news, to inform him. Marpet said Winston also had conversations with members of the team individually about the suspension. He has not addressed the team as a whole, though.
"That's my boy, one of my best friends," wide receiver Mike Evans said. "Obviously I was hurt by [the suspension]. We've been going to war together for three years, about to be four years now."
Evans, who has two young daughters and cited allegations of President Trump's mistreatment of women as one of his primary reasons for protesting his election last year, acknowledged that the situation with Winston has been hard on him.
"I don't know the whole situation, and nobody does but the people that were there, so I won't speak too much on that," said Evans, who said that he and Winston haven't had discussions about the incident -- only that he will be participating in training camp.