The Buccaneers reported to training camp on Thursday morning and all but one was in attendance. Head coach Lovie Smith talked about Carl Nicks and his absence from camp during a noon press conference at One Buc Place.
When the dust settled on Thursday afternoon, and the head count was taken, just one Buccaneer player hadn’t reported to camp as required. Bucs head coach Lovie Smith explained who it was and why the missing person wasn’t in attendance on Thursday.
"Carl Nicks has been excused right now for personal reasons, so we haven’t seen Carl yet, (but) I think the rest of the guys should be good to go,” Smith said. “The first couple days we can’t be in pads, so we’ll run around in our underwear a little bit longer. But eventually of course you want to see the guys out there to get them back into the mix.”
Nicks has played just nine games since being signed to a $47.5 million contract in 2012 due to a toe injury that required surgery in 2012 and a MRSA infection acquired lat season along with two other Buccaneers. Many have speculated whether or not Nicks would be able to play at all this year as he continues to recover.
Smith didn’t reveal much about Nicks in his opening press conference, saying he just wanted to focus on the guys who did show up.
“He’s been excused today,” Smith said. “And that’s about all I really know. He won’t be here today. We’ll be able to let you know a little bit more later.”
The guard position remains one of the biggest question marks going into training camp, but Smith said he isn’t worried about Nicks’ absence and would prefer to focus on the players who are in attendance.
“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, the guys that are here right now.”
Smith emphasized that Nicks was excused for today, but didn’t have an answer for whether or not the former Pro Bowl guard would be present for the start of training camp tomorrow afternoon.
Nicks told the media back in June that he would be spending his vacation time rehabbing at One Buc Place, in hopes to be ready for training camp.
“Over the next six weeks I will be here training, rehabbing when everyone else is vacationing,” Nicks said. “I will be just trying to get all these mental reps and basically to try and get ready for the field. So I will be here.”
If Nicks does attend tomorrow’s on Friday, the question will be how much he is able to participate, if at all, and how well he can play on his injured foot, which he had surgery on to remove MRSA last season. Nicks will have to suffer through a lot of pain this season if he does play, but seemed prepared for it last time he spoke with the media back in June.
“I think I will be able to play (this year),” Nicks said. “But it’s just the waiting game with me trying to get back out there. I think I will have a modified schedule, but I think I will be able to play football and that is what I am trying to do. There is always going to be pain, it is just how much I can deal with it. I have high tolerance for pain so I think I will be able to deal.”–Haley Cornish and Mark Cook combined on this report
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