It’s definitely not a good thing. Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting guard Carl Nicks is a no-show to voluntary OTAs. Once again the Bucs are looking at the prospect of replacing what should be a stalwart member of the offensive line. When Tampa Bay acquired Nicks for the 2012 season it appeared the left guard position was set for the foreseeable future.
Not so fast.
The Nebraska standout was signed to a five year $47.5 million contract in 2012 after starting every game for his original squad, the New Orleans Saints, over his first four NFL seasons. In October of 2012 the first of many setbacks took place when Nicks injured his toe and had to be placed on season-ending IR.
In August of 2013 Nicks developed an infected blister on his toe that was later reported as a staph infection. Throughout the 2013 season Nicks was plagued by the infection causing him to miss all but two games. In the two seasons Nicks has been in Tampa he’s played in 9 games overall.
Now with the 2014 season just over the horizon, the All-Pro guard is still struggling to get onto the field with his recurring toe issues. The hope at this point, is that Nicks will be available come training camp. For the remainder of off-season OTAs, the Bucs will have to make do without their bulldozing run-blocking specialist.
Coming off an incredibly disappointing 2013 season new head coach Lovie Smith is looking to get the team back on track in an extremely competitive NFC South. Missing one of the top guards to help protect either Josh McCown or Mike Glennon isn’t exactly a desirable way to start the schedule.
Maybe the biggest form of protection that Nicks provides is his ability to assist the run game. The more yardage running back Doug Martin can manage in the early downs, the easier it will be for the 2014 Bucs quarterback to convert on third. Whether the starting QB is McCown or Glennon, neither has proven themselves to be a elite passer.
After Nicks, the drop-off at guard is significant. A successful 2014 campaign may come down to a single toe.
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