Bucs coach Greg Schiano left open the possibility Friday, when asked about the two-time Pro Bowl player's status in advance of Tampa Bay's Week 2 matchup against the
New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium. The only two players ruled out are cornerback Michael Adams (knee) and tight end Tom Crabtree (ankle).
Whether Nicks, who declared himself MRSA-free Wednesday, sees significant time is another question. Schiano spoke about the need to have Nicks return to game shape, but the player was limited in practice earlier this week.
"When he was fighting the (MRSA) infection, it wasn't like he did light conditioning," Schiano said. "He did nothing, and that was mandatory by the doctors. So he has to get back into playing shape. How you do it is play.
"It's going to be a little bit of a process no matter when that first time he plays (happens). But you know what? We'll just keep moving it forward, because Carl is a dominant player, and we need to get him back."
Even if Nicks doesn't appear Sunday, the sight of him at recent practices is an obvious step forward for him and the Bucs. He only played in seven games last season, the fewest since he entered the league in 2008, after tearing the plantar plate in his left foot. He made significant strides in his recovery from that condition before being diagnosed with MRSA in August.
"It's frustrating, but at the same time you can't mess around with MRSA," Nicks said Wednesday. "So I'm going to do exactly what they tell me to do, what the doctors tell me and the coaches tell me."