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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Amid MRSA chaos, Schiano trying to maintain focus



TAMPA -- With his team dealing with a third player being diagnosed with a MRSA staph infection, Bucs coach Greg Schiano said the team learned important information from an hourlong meeting with a infectious disease specialist before Friday's practice.

"As in anything, I think so much of the fear is the unknown, so as we became better educated, we all kind of understand the gameplan of how to make sure this doesn't become a bigger problem," Schiano said.

The Bucs confirmed a third player has MRSA -- joining starting guard Carl Nicks, who suffered a recurrence this week, and kicker Lawrence Tynes, who is out of the season after being diagnosed in August. Multiple national reports said that player is rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks, the team's highest draft pick in April and a key player as the Bucs face a prolific Eagles offense on Sunday afternoon.

The Bucs declined to confirm the third player's identity, citing his request for privacy, but Banks was the only player not at Friday's practice who hadn't already been listed on the team's injury report. Receiver Mike Williams and Nicks were absent but have been limited by injuries this week. As serious as the MRSA infections can be, the Bucs haven't ruled out Nicks or Banks playing Sunday if cleared.

"We'll move some guys around, if need be," Schiano said. "I don't know what the final outcome is going to be on all the situations. I'm not going to lock in anything in my mind right now, other than have flexibility, other than that's why you train guys with the first-team guy, the second-team guy, or some mix or match of both."

While Nicks could play Sunday, he also may require surgery as the most effective means of assuring no further MRSA infections in his injured left foot. He said he was "disappointed" and "concerned" after learning Thursday that Nicks had a recurrence.

"It isn't easy, what he's been through, to feel like it's behind you, then all the sudden. It's a tricky deal," Schiano said. "Medicine, as much as we'd like it to be an exact science, it's not."

Schiano said it's "too early" to know whether surgery is ahead for Nicks -- or how long that would sideline a player who has already missed nine of the last 11 games -- but he recognizes it is a possibility.

"Right now, I think it's 'Hey, we've got to get this thing gone, and whatever that's going to take, we're going to do," Schiano said. "We're not going to to overboard, but whatever it's going to take, with the smartest people in the world who know how to fix this, that's what we're going to do and listen to them."

It seems counterintuitive that an infection that can be spread by physical contact could somehow bring a team closer together, but Schiano said he's counting on the bonding aspect of what the Bucs are enduring having a positive impact on the team's unity.

"In all these kinds of situations, you see your guys come together. They're concerned for each other," Schiano said. "... Out of anything, good can come. This team's coming together, and we're going to stick behind our guys that are sick, stick together for each other. ... Adversity reveals character, and I think some good character is coming out of this."

[Last modified: Friday, October 11, 2013 3:55pm]


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