TAMPA — Bucs LG Carl Nicks could play on Sunday against the Saints.
That's according to coach Greg Schiano, who hasn't ruled out the All-Pro though Nicks returned just this week after being out a month with the staph infection MRSA.
Nicks was at limited participation in practice Wednesday through Friday and listed as questionable for Sunday. The key to when — and how much — Nicks plays will be his conditioning.
"Certainly, conditioning is a concern, because when he was fighting the infection, he could do nothing," Schiano said. "He has to get back into playing shape. How you do that? You play. He can run; he can jog. You've got to do that. But then there's that other step, and to a much greater degree, kind of how we handled Darrelle (Revis, coming back from knee surgery in the preseason). It's going to be a process whenever he plays."
If Nicks doesn't play, Gabe Carimi is likely to start again in his place.
MONEY MATTERS: S Dashon Goldson hinted this week that the fine he received from the league for his hit on Jets TE Jeff Cumberland on Sunday was a "pretty significant number."
That number was revealed Friday: $30,000.
Goldson leaped and drove his shoulder into Cumberland, who was in midair trying to catch a pass over the middle. Goldson believes his hit was clean.
It is the seventh time Goldson has been fined by the league, five coming last year (totalling $52,500) for infractions including a late hit, unsportsmanlike conduct (taunting) and uniform violations.
LB Lavonte David said Thursday he was fined $7,875 for his out-of-bounds shove of Jets QB Geno Smith but planned to appeal.
S Mark Barron was not fined. Barron received an unnecessary roughness personal foul penalty when he helped sandwich Jets WR Jeremy Kerley, who was diagnosed with a concussion Monday.
Schiano doesn't like the penalties or fines and doesn't believe any of the Bucs' fined hits Sunday were intentional.
"Our guys aren't trying to do that," Schiano said. "They're trying to play within the rules. Just sometimes, when you're moving at high speeds, illegal acts occur. So we just keep working at it. We'll get it right. Every once and a while, you're going to have one. That's the nature of the game."
BLOCKING BOOST: The Bucs' running game could get a boost Sunday with the expected return of FB Erik Lorig. Lorig, who has been out since the preseason with a calf injury, returned to full participation in practice this week and said he feels great.
Lorig was a key cog in blocking for RB Doug Martin last season. In Lorig's absence, the Bucs used third-string TE Nate Byham in that role against the Jets.
"I'm excited about having our fullback, and having our two-back run game, two-tight-end run game and pass game, all that stuff," Schiano said. "That's who we are; that's the kind of style of ball we play."
FAMILIAR FOE: LB Jonathan Casillas spent his first four NFL seasons in New Orleans — including playing in Super Bowl XLIV — before signing with the Bucs as an unrestricted free agent in March. Sunday's game is a little more personal for him.
"I can't wait to go out there and hit these guys," Casillas said. "I called them family for four years, so it'll be a little strange and weird at the same time."
TOUGH TASK: Saints RB Darren Sproles is 5 feet 6, 190 pounds, but he poses a huge, multidimensional problem for the Bucs' defense.
Sproles uses his speed as a weapon in running, receiving and kick returning. Bucs defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan called him a matchup nightmare.
"He can kill you in any way possible," Casillas said. "He can catch the ball out of the backfield. He can run the ball, return the ball. He can probably throw the ball, too.
"He's kind of a do-everything guy, a little guy, but he runs really hard behind his pads, and (he is) an unbelievable guy in space. So you have to account for him wherever he's at."
MISCELLANY: CB Mike Adams (knee) and TE Tom Crabtree (ankle) are ruled out for Sunday. DE Adrian Clayborn (hip) and Lorig are probable. CB Rashaan Melvin (hamstring) is questionable.