It's unlikely All-Pro guard Carl Nicks will play in the season opener against the New York Jets. Fortunately for the Bucs they do have options to plug in at left guard in case Nicks is in fact a “no-go” Sunday afternoon. Head coach Greg Schiano is not ruling out anything however, including Nicks being on the field Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
“Too early to tell,” Schiano said Monday. “We have guys on our roster and we will choose one of them. They all can play guard. So one of them will end up being the starting guard if Carl can’t play.”
Despite the uncertainty, Schiano is confident in the offensive line as well as veteran Davin Joseph.
"I feel very strongly about Davin," Schiano said. "I think Davin is going to come out and play Davin-like. I feel uncertain about Nicks because that's what it is. It's uncertain. The rest of the guys, I have confidence that they're going to play well. The guys that have practiced all camp, they're going to play well."
The guys that Schiano is referring to are offensive linemen Gabe Carimi, Ted Larsen, Jamon Meredith and even Jeremy Zuttah. All four have had experience at guard and some got some looks at the position during preseason as well.
Meredith was chosen over Jeremy Trueblood to start at right guard last season to fill in for Joseph when he was lost for the season last August and Meredith made the transition from tackle to guard in 2012 look fairly easy.
Carimi got some looks at the spot this preseason and Larsen can be placed at center while Zuttah moves to guard, something the Bucs did last season after Nicks was lost for the remainder of 2012.
"Well it is always an option, because we have done it," Schiano said. "I wouldn't say that is the way we are going to go or not the way we are going to go. Right now we just have to get the best five on the field. So we will evaluate that when we know definitively about Carl."
However, Zuttah didn't appear too happy about the idea when asked about that option recently, but added that he will do what the team needs.
“As of right now, I'm playing center,'' Zuttah said. “I'd like to try and settle in and try to master one position. I think that's what anybody would prefer to do, but whatever the team asks of me, I'm always willing.''
Still, with all the options the Bucs may have across the line, Schiano did acknowledge the unit's struggles during the preseason, mentioning that they did not play well throughout the past four weeks.
“Not all the time, no,” Schiano said. “There were issues. But that can be said for every O-line over the course of the season some weeks. Overall, I’m confident. I just wish there was more certainty at the left guard, but everybody’s got their issues. And that’s ours.”
The Bucs will look to address those issues this week during practice and make a decision on who will replace Nicks if he will sit out the game against the Jets.