If all goes a according to plan Sunday, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks will start against the New England Patriots, marking his first game back since contracting MRSA last month and undergoing surgery on his toe.
It’s not set in stone, but the likelihood increased after his replacement, offensive guard Gabe Carimi, was officially ruled out due to illness.
“It feels really good to get back to work and feel like I’m contributing to the team and not feeling useless and sickly,” Nicks told reporters Friday at One Buc Place. “It’s a really good feeling. I’m hiding it well, but I’m very excited.”
Nicks tore the plantar plate in his big toe last year and required surgery. He was poised to make his return to the football field when the Bucs traveled to Foxborough to face the Patriots in the second week of the preseason.
He developed a blister on his foot and was diagnosed with MRSA, a highly-resistant form of staph, which sidelined him for several weeks.
Nicks has yet to fully participate in practice, meaning his stamina will be tested. Head coach Greg Schiano and the Bucs training staff will assess the situation on game day and monitor his snaps.
“That’s the plan, but we’re going to find out. You guys will see, sooner than I will, if I’m gassed out there,” said Nicks.
Sunday’s game will mark the first time the Bucs will have their two Pro Bowl offensive linemen, Nicks and right guard Davin Joseph, start together.
Last preseason, ironically in a game against the Patriots, Joseph suffered a ruptured patellar tendon in his knee. Now the two can officially join forces and possibly create one of of the most powerful rushing attacks in the NFL with Doug Martin.
“You know, I’ve got him on one of my fantasy teams,” Nicks joked. “Doug’s a fantastic running back, and hopefully we can do big things when I’m back.”