TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard Carl Nicks did not report to One Buc Place on Thursday, but coach Lovie Smith said the two-time Pro Bowl player was excused for personal reasons.
Nicks, who has been cleared to play in the Bucs’ upcoming training camp that begins Friday, is attempting to return from pain and nerve damage in his left foot that has limited him to nine games played since signing a five-year, $47.5 million deal with Tampa Bay before the 2012 season.
He appeared in seven games for the Bucs in the 2012 campaign before he underwent surgery for a torn plantar plate in the affected foot. Then he was part of just two games last season before a bout with MRSA in the foot kept him sidelined, and surgery was required to get rid of the serious staph infection.
”It doesn’t concern me,” Smith said. ”It’s part of training camp, part of life. During the course of the year, you’re going to have guys that have things come up where they can’t be here. What you can’t do is just concentrate on that a whole lot. And everything is fine, and we’ll be OK with it. Just too many other things we have going on with the rest of our crew."
Nicks, 29, has been far from the dynamic presence on the offensive line that the Bucs envisioned when they lured him in free agency, after the San Francisco native spent his first four NFL seasons with the New Orleans Saints. He missed all of the Bucs’ voluntary work this past offseason before making an appearance for the team’s mandatory minicamp. He was limited to jogging and rehab drills during that time. He had said his goal was to be ready for the start of training camp.
”When a player is injured, he doesn’t practice,” Smith said. ”You’re going to have that throughout. So you just move on. It’s a chance to see other guys. So it’s always about who’s there and who’s available to work out.”