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Bucs' Nicks hopes to take field against Patriots

Carl Nicks is hopeful he'll have a chance to make his season debut when the Bucs play Sunday at New England.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Carl Nicks is hopeful he'll have a chance to make his season debut when the Bucs play Sunday at New England.

TAMPA — Bucs G Carl Nicks, sidelined for the first two games by a toe injury and MRSA infection, said he hopes to play Sunday at New England.

"If I had it my way, I'd play Week 1," Nicks said after practicing Wednesday. "But obviously, I wasn't ready. When I say, 'We'll see,' it's if I get the okay from the big guys upstairs."

Nicks said his toe feels good, and that it has been difficult watching the first two losses from the sideline.

"You kind of see your team struggle. You know you could have done something to help. It's frustrating," he said. "If I get back out there this week, I should be able to (help)."

The Bucs have gotten 209 yards from second-year RB Doug Martin, but he never has run behind a line with both of the top guards, Nicks and Davin Joseph, who missed last season with a knee injury. Nicks, a huge presence at 6 feet 5, 349 pounds, said he has enjoyed going up against Patriots DT Vince Wilfork, who is 6-2 and 325.

INJURY UPDATE: Schiano said backup DT Derek Landri will be sidelined "a few weeks" with an injury to the MCL in his left knee. The Bucs didn't have an inactive tackle Sunday against the Saints. So in his absence, they could use rookie DE William Gholston, who has good size at 6-6, 281.

The team's first injury report of the week showed six players limited in practice: LB Mason Foster (toe), Nicks (foot), DE Adrian Clayborn (hip), TE Luke Stocker (hip), TE Tom Crabtree (ankle) and CB Rashaan Melvin (hamstring). CB Mike Adams (knee) and OL Gabe Carimi (illness) were held out.

DEAL FOR BARTH: The Bucs reached an agreement with injured K Connor Barth that will cut his 2013 salary from $2.3 million to $500,000 with some of his 2014 salary shifted to roster bonuses, general manager Mark Dominik said.

Dominik said the Bucs were not obligated to pay anything to Barth, who tore his Achilles tendon in a charity basketball game in July and will miss the season.

"I know it's unfortunate what happened to him in a charity basketball event," Dominik said. "But we set up his contract to give him every opportunity to earn his final two years with the club. We felt as an organization it was the right thing to do. We have a lot of respect for Connor."

Dominik said he spoke Sunday with Barth, who remains in a walking boot. Dominik was pleased by his progress.

The restructuring was first reported by espn.com.

"I think both sides are happy we were able to come through that process," Dominik said. "We're excited obviously a year from now to have Connor back out here competing and kicking for the Bucs."

Barth, the Bucs kicker for the past three seasons, signed a four-year, $13.2 million ($4 million guaranteed) contract in 2012. He was due to make $3.15 million in 2014. That was restructured to $2 million in salary with the ability to earn a weekly roster bonus of $71,875, which would amount to the same total if he were healthy all season. The final year of his contract has not been changed.

"(Barth) would like to thank the Buccaneers organization and in particular, general manager Mark Dominik, for sticking with him during this time," his agent, Rob Roche, said in a statement. "Their loyalty and generosity is appreciated and must be acknowledged. Connor looks forward to returning next season stronger than ever."

Greg Auman can be reached at auman@tampabay.com.

Bucs' Nicks hopes to take field against Patriots 09/18/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 9:38pm]
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