TAMPA — Bucs G Carl Nicks has not gone to work on a football field in about 10 months. He will have to wait at least another day.
Nicks did not report to training camp Thursday and was excused for personal reasons, coach Lovie Smith said. The absence, apparently, is not related to the toe injury or MRSA staph infection that limited him to nine games over the past two seasons. Smith said he was excused only for the day.
"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 some guys where things come up and they can't be here."
Two players who missed offseason workouts due to undisclosed injuries, S Mark Barron and S Dashon Goldson, will be available when the team hits the field for the first time today.
"I think the rest of the guys should be good to go," Smith said. "It's a chance to see other guys. It's always about who's there and who's available to work out."
PAYING UP: The morning after his general manager challenged him to prove something during training camp, DE Da'Quan Bowers said he knows he must play better than his first three seasons.
"No question about it. I owe it to this organization, owe it to this team. I've been here long enough, and I haven't really been that player that I know I can be," he said. "I think it's time I really put forth that extra foot, to be that player that I know I'm capable of being."
Bowers totaled just seven tackles last season and underwent knee surgery for an undisclosed injury after being sidelined for the final two games.
Wednesday night, GM Jason Licht said he had to be "blunt" about Bowers showing his commitment to playing at the NFL level.
In three seasons, the 2011 second-round pick has 51/2 sacks but said he's physically in the best shape of his career.
"This is probably the best I've felt coming into camp over the past couple of years," he said. "It's been a consistent offseason for me. I've put in the work. I'm ready to finally reap the benefits."
PEP TALK: Smith isn't one for inspirational speeches to start training camp. In fact, he said his message is the same every year.
"I talk all season about the man in the mirror. I'm a big Michael Jackson fan, which says everybody take care of yourselves, spend all your time with you and improving yourself," Smith said, alluding to the 1997 song.
"It's just about having a career year. No matter how you've played so far, we need all of us to have the best year we've had, and it starts out there. It's not a magic pill. It's just hard work, going to work from today on, and that's what we plan on doing."