Monday, April 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers lose Carl Nicks for season with toe injury

TAMPA — After assembling their high-dollar free-agent class this year, the Bucs celebrated the signing of guard Carl Nicks just as much as the sexier acquisition of top-flight receiver Vincent Jackson.

Nicks, an All-Pro with the Saints, was seen as the final piece of a dominant line that would lead to a powerful running game.

But the next time the Bucs and their fans will see Nicks' formidable downhill blocking will be in 2013.

Nicks was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with a lingering toe injury requiring surgery. The Bucs said the plantar plate in Nicks' left foot is torn. The plantar plate, near the ball of the foot, holds the toe joints together and lets toes bend. When it is injured, the impact is far-reaching as the plate supports a person's entire weight — and Nicks is listed at 349 pounds.

"It's been unbelievable what he's been able to play through," Bucs safety Ronde Barber said Tuesday on his weekly radio show on 620-AM. "It's about the size of two golf balls."

The injury to Nicks was just the latest in a string of injuries and setbacks that have besieged some key Bucs.

Two-time Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph was lost to a major knee injury in a preseason game. Last month, 2011 first-round pick Adrian Clayborn, the team's top returning sacker, sustained a season-ending knee injury. This month, starting cornerback Aqib Talib was hit with a four-game suspension for using a performance-enhancing drug that he says was Adderall.

Da'Quan Bowers, who ruptured an Achilles tendon in the offseason, is only now returning, nearly six months later.

Nicks has dealt with his injury for weeks. It severely limited him in practice in recent weeks but had not kept him out of any game action. He said recently that he anticipated the injury lingering through the season, but never suggested it would be season-ending.

The injury grew gradually worse the past several weeks, though he kept playing at a high level. He was known to be coping with considerable discomfort.

The news continues the constant upheaval on the offensive line, considered the strength of the team before the season.

Joseph's injury was followed by the benching of veteran right tackle Jeremy Trueblood. Demar Dotson took his place and continues to start. That was followed by the benching of Joseph's replacement, Ted Larsen, who was replaced by journeyman Jamon Meredith.

Nicks' placement on injured reserve means that just two of the Bucs' five projected offensive-line starters will line up Sunday against the Raiders: left tackle Donald Penn and center Jeremy Zuttah.

Nicks was a member of the team's celebrated class of free agents this offseason, signing a five-year, $47.5 million contract in March.

Also Tuesday, the Bucs placed rookie tight end Danny Noble on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. They promoted guard Roger Allen from the practice squad.

The choice to replace Nicks is not a slam dunk. The Bucs will have to consider their options. Larsen is among them, as is Trueblood — who the Bucs also considered as an option at right guard. The Bucs could also consider Cody Wallace, one of their backup interior linemen.

The Bucs could seek a trade. The NFL, in the wake of disruptions caused by Hurricane Sandy, moved the trade deadline from Tuesday to Thursday. But landing offensive linemen in a trade assumes there is a team with a surplus willing to move one, not something easily found.

Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report. Stephen F. Holder can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @HolderStephen.

Comments
How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

TAMPA — The buzz surrounding this year's NFL draft is a class of talented quarterbacks deep enough to challenge the record six taken in the first round in 1983, a group that included future Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.Th...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Former NFL kicker Jay Feely, who was born in Odessa and starred at Tampa Jesuit, has apologized for a photo he intended as a joke, showing him holding a gun as he poses with his daughter and her prom date."Wishing my beautiful daughter and her date a...
Published: 04/22/18
Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

TAMPA — Shaquem Griffin wakes up knowing each day will be better than the last and barely able to wait until tomorrow."It's just a whirlwind,'' Griffin said.On Thursday, he will walk the red carpet with his family, including his twin brother, S...
Published: 04/21/18
Bucs not listening to outsiders, but expectations remain high for 2018

Bucs not listening to outsiders, but expectations remain high for 2018

TAMPA —Wait 'til this year seems to be the refrain at One Buc Place, even though the team was strangled by expectations in 2017. But a solid offseason that has already brought a rebuilt defensive line, new center and place-kicker has renewed th...
Published: 04/21/18
NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

TAMPA — The NFL draft is one big game of Liar's Poker. Deal me out.Even the guys with a seat at the table don't know when someone is bluffing.Bucs general manager Jason Licht knows that the team's No. 7 overall pick this year will be affected b...
Published: 04/20/18
Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Mike Evans catch Miami Heat game from courtside

Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Mike Evans catch Miami Heat game from courtside

We've seen Jameis Winston and Mike Evans bonding this offseason, going to Texas A&M pro day together, among other events. The two Bucs stars and their significant others double-dated Thursday night, getting courtside seats to watch the Miami Heat in ...
Published: 04/20/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Bucs have a tough start to their schedule

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Bucs have a tough start to their schedule

The NFL did the Bucs no favors with their 2018 schedule, Rick Stroud says, making them open at New Orleans, followed by home games against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Plus, linebacker Kendall Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle, p...
Published: 04/20/18
Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

TAMPA — How good can the Bucs be in 2018? Fans will get a good sense in the first three weeks, as Tampa Bay opens the year with three of its toughest games, all against reigning division champions. The Bucs open 2018 in New Orleans on Sept. 9 ...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

TAMPA – Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle he suffered in a car accident in Louisiana last week, putting his status for the start of the season in question.Beckwith was passenger in car driven by former L...
Published: 04/19/18
Bucs’ home schedule leaked: Hosting Eagles in Week 2

Bucs’ home schedule leaked: Hosting Eagles in Week 2

The 2018 NFL schedule won't be released until 8 p.m. tonight, but the Bucs' eight home games were posted early — and presumably accidentally — on the team's site, showing what would be a daunting start to the upcoming season.Multiple outl...
Published: 04/19/18