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Bucs Poised To Make Last-Minute O-Line Changes For Jets Game

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By Max Luckan

While the New York Jets have questions about their starting quarterback coming into this Sunday’s game, they aren’t the only ones looking for answers on the offensive side of the ball. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are uncertain about left guard Carl Nicks’ status for the regular season opener and they may have to do some creative shuffling if Nicks is unable to play.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 06:  Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers yells to his offense against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 6, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(Credit, Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Bucs Might Need to Get Creative on Offense

It is unclear how badly Nicks was affected by the MRSA outbreak that occurred at One Buc Place, but there are few encouraging signs that Nicks will be ready to go on Sunday. On Monday, Bucs head coach Greg Schiano told press that it’s “too early to tell” whether Nicks will be able to suit up and play, which means the Bucs will have to plan accordingly.

Gabe Carimi, whom the Bucs acquired via trade from the Chicago Bears in the offseason, took first-team reps at left guard on Monday. But the Bucs also have other options in Ted Larsen and Jamon Meredith in the event that Nicks is unable to play. Schiano wouldn’t exactly say who would likely start in Nicks’ place.

“Well, we have guys on our roster, on the offensive line, we’ll choose one of them,” Schiano told the media after Monday’s practice. “They all can play guard. One of them will end up being the starting guard if Carl can’t play.”

Schiano is being intentionally coy because he’s unsure about the status of Nicks, and primarily because he doesn’t want to tip the Jets in any way about their plans.

The Bucs could also move center Jeremy Zuttah back to left guard and insert Ted Larsen, who is listed as a true center on the roster, at center, a move the Bucs made last season and had success with.

“It’s always an option because we’ve done it,” said Schiano. “I wouldn’t say that’s the way we’re going to go or it’s not the way we’re going to go. We just have to get the best five on the field. We’ll evaluate that when we know definitively about Carl.”

Throughout the preseason, the Bucs offensive line struggled and couldn’t find a rhythm. The latter can be attributed to the meshing of starters with third-stringers and so on, but quarterback Josh Freeman was sacked nine times in the preseason. Still, Schiano doesn’t seem worried about the play of veteran Davin Joseph or the offensive line as a unit.

“I feel very strongly about Davin,” Schiano said. “I think Davin is going to come out and play Davin-like. And then the rest of the guys, I feel confident they’re going to play well, the guys that have practiced all camp, they’re going to play well.”

All Signs Point to Revis Playing

The health of cornerback Darrelle Revis will also be interesting to monitor. All signs point to Revis playing against the Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, but no one knows how healthy he actually is and how the knee will react to live action against a real opponent.

It’s obvious that the Bucs will need the help of Revis in the secondary, but he will have to prove himself in an actual regular season game, and will have to show the coaches that he is, in fact, healthy.

Brian Leonard to Back up Doug Martin?

Coach Schiano likely won’t reveal who will back up starting running back Doug Martin on Sunday, but seventh-year man Brian Leonard got plenty of work in the preseason and the coaching staff was impressed with his performance.

“Whenever he [Martin] gets tired, hopefully I can be the guy that goes in and, hopefully, there’s not a let-off,” Leonard said, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Whether there’s a let-off behind Martin or not will likely be answered Sunday as the Bucs travel to play the Jets.

For more news and updates, visit Tampa Bay Buccaneers Central.

Max Luckan lives in Tampa, FL and is a sports writer covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL. Luckan has been covering the Buccaneers for a few years now. You can find more of his work at Examiner.com.

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