TAMPA — Sidelined for nearly a month by a MRSA staph infection, Tampa Bay Buccaneers LG Carl Nicks likely will have to play his way back into shape. The first step in that process could come Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
Nicks was limited to working out mostly on his own during practice this week, but the Bucs have not ruled him out for their home opener. That might be a ploy to throw off the Saints, but it might not.
He is listed as questionable for the game.
“He has to get back into playing shape and how you do it is play,’’ Bucs coach Greg Schiano said Friday. “You can run, you can jog — you’ve got to do that, don’t get me wrong — but then there’s that other step into a much greater degree.’’
Gabe Carimi is expcted to play if Nicks cannot. Schiano, however, did not rule out the possibility both could play at the position.
“You have to see how it goes,’’ Schiano said. “When he’s gassed, he’s got to let us know, because we have other guys that can play. And then, eventually, that becomes more and more and more.
“It’s going to be a little bit of a process, no matter when that first time he plays. But we just keep moving it forward, because Carl is a dominant player and we need to get him back.”
Former Bucs coach Tony Dungy used to say there are a lot of ways to score in the NFL. There are a lot of ways to sack the quarterback, too.
The Bucs reached Jets rookie QB Geno Smith for five sacks in Sunday’s 18-17 loss. But in a somewhat unconventional manner, only one came from a defensive lineman.
The linebackers were responsible for the others, with MLB Mason Foster recording two and WLB Lavonte David and SLB Dekoda Watson one each. Strange as it might seem, that’s actually part of the plan.
“I would like to have seen a few more from the defensive line, but that’s me talking as the leader of that group,’’ DT Gerald McCoy said. “The thing about it is, if we do our job up front it makes it easier for the guys behind us — and that’s what happened.
“We did what we’re supposed to do, taking on guys, and (the linebackers) did their job. They were in the right spot and they timed it just right and so it really was a team effort and us working together like we’re supposed to.’’
It was only the second time in the past five years the Bucs recorded five or more sacks in a game. The other was in December against Philadelphia, and Foster says there might be something to that.
“If you remember, I was saying all throughout training camp that I understand the defense better and that I felt a lot more comfortable out there and I think that kind of goes for everybody,’’ he said.
“I felt really fast last week. And we were all just out there having fun, and that’s a big part of it, I think. We just have to figure out a way now to pull out those games like we had on Sunday.’’
CB Darrelle Revis passed another milestone this week in his recovery from left knee surgery when he made it through the season-opening game Sunday against the Jets at MetLife Stadium and the subsequent workouts without any signs of a setback.
“Everything’s great,’’ Revis said. “No swelling or anything, and that was the big thing, especially playing on that turf. It’s real tough playing on that turf, but it was great.’’
Revis broke up two passes in the 18-17 loss to the Jets, but said he’s still not back at 100 percent yet. He’s confident, though, he’s getting closer to his old form.
“I’m still dusting off the cobwebs,’’ he said. “I’ve got to get back to my comfort zone. I don’t know, people might have said I looked fine out there, that it looked easy for me, but I’ve got to keep improving.’’