FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Tampa Bay Buccaneers LG Carl Nicks came to New England this week planning to make his 2013 preseason debut during the exhibition game against the Patriots on Friday night at Gillette Stadium.
That didn’t happen.
About 90 minutes before kickoff, the Bucs announced they decided to scratch Nicks from the lineup, saying he had put in enough good work during joint practices against the Pats to warrant sitting out.
The Bucs stressed the decision was not the result of any kind of setback for Nicks, who is still recovering from the plantar tissue tear in his left big toe that ended his 2012 season after seven games.
“It’s no big setback or anything,’’ Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. “We just feel like it’s better that we get him better for next week to play a considerable amount of time.
“He got some really good work up here during the week, so we feel like he’s gotten enough already for this time in his recovery and return. We feel good about that.’’
Nicks, a two-time Pro Bowler, has said that he will have to deal with the remnants of the injury for the rest of his life, but he has also vowed to play through the pain on game days.
Schiano said on Thursday that he thought Nicks would play Friday night, but the Bucs never did commit to a plan in which their starting left guard would play this week.
“You want to get out there and get going, but you also have to kind of bring that in line a bit, because you don’t want to jeopardize the whole season for a preseason game,’’ Nicks said Thursday.
Nicks was one of several players, including projected starting RG Davin Joseph, who didn’t dress for the game. Joseph (knee) was among a group that included PK Lawrence Tynes (toe), WR Chris Owusu (ankle) and CB Danny Gorrer (groin).
Feel like letting go
Bucs RT Gabe Carimi will be the first to tell you he didn’t have a very good 2012 season. He will also be the first to tell you he didn’t always allow himself to have a very good 2012 season.
Coming off several procedures to stabilize a right knee that had to be surgically repaired midway through his rookie season in 2011, Carimi said he often played cautiously in an effort to protect his health last year.
“I guarded myself a lot last year,’’ said Carimi, a University of Wisconsin product who won the 2010 Outland Trophy as the nation’s top offensive lineman and was the Chicago Bears’ 2011 first-round draft pick.
“I just have to let it go and be me again. I’m not there yet, because I’m sort of having to re-teach myself everything and I still have a lot of work to do to get there, mostly with technique stuff.
“I’m trying to relearn a lot of my body mechanics. I’m doing pretty good, I think. I just have to keep working my trade and keep on going. I’ll know when I get there. I’m just not quite there yet.’’
The Bucs must believe he’s close. They have been very happy with the play of projected starting RT Demar Dotson this preseason, yet Carimi was getting a lot of work with the first team during workouts this week against New England.
“He’s been solid,’’ Schiano said. “He’s learning our system and he’s a smart guy who loves football. He really tries to please the coaches by the way he plays, so he’s been a good addition for us.
Run, baby, run
Preseason games may be relatively meaningless exercises for some players, but don’t include the corps of candidates competing for the Bucs’ backup running back job in that group.
The Bucs have been able to make a couple of determinations regarding the winner of that race during training camp workouts, but Schiano says the team needs games like Friday’s against the Patriots to complete its evaluation.
“In order to properly judge a running back, he needs to go live,’’ Schiano said. “We have to see how he handles the tackling part of it, because we don’t tackle our guys in practice.
“So, assignment-wise it’s a check and blocking-wise, check. But they are called running backs for a reason — because they run the ball. So we need to see how they do when live people are trying to tackle them.”
Veterans Brian Leonard and Peyton Hillis, first-year pro Michael Smith and rookie Mike James are the top contenders for the backup running back spot behing 2012 Pro Bowler Doug Martin.