TAMPA — The news that a staph infection could keep Tampa Bay LG Carl Nicks from playing in the Sept. 8 season opener against the New York Jets has forced the Buccaneers to consider several possible replacements for the two-time Pro Bowler.
One solution may result in the Bucs moving RT Gabe Carimi to left guard.
Carimi, a 2011 first-round pick of the Bears whom the Bucs picked up in an offseason trade, has not played left guard in the NFL, but he was playing there with the first-team offense on Thursday.
“We’re actually working several combinations there right now, so we’ll see,” Bucs head coach Greg Schiano said of a possible changing of the guard. “I wouldn’t speculate right now who it would be, but you know the possibilities.”
The Bucs have Cody Wallace listed second behind Nicks on the current depth chart, but Ted Larsen, who has NFL starts at both left guard and center, has been getting the majority of the work there while Nicks has been sidelined.
The Bucs also have the option of moving starting C Jeremy Zuttah to left guard, where he has made 39 NFL starts, including nine last year as a replacement for Nicks after Nicks went down with a toe injury.
That scenario, however, is unlikely, at least for now, Schiano said.
“That’s not the plan right now, but I wouldn’t rule it out,” Schiano said. “I mean we’ve done it before and (Zuttah) has shown himself to be proficient at (left guard), so I think we just have to play that by ear as well.
“Again, not knowing the time, how long (Nicks is) going to be out, makes it more difficult to do something like that if you even thought of doing it.”
Name that tune
Taking a cue from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, Schiano has started playing music during the live 11-on-11 team drills in which he wants his players to contend with an audible distraction.
Schiano used to pump ear-piercing white noise through a set of loudspeakers during such drills, but after working against the Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., last week he decided to change up.
“We used to do that in some of the other places I coached, so I said, ‘Let’s try it,’ ” Schiano said. “All I really want there is noise (that forces them) to go to non-verbal communication.”
The Bucs aren’t practicing to ballads. AC/DC and Motley Crue were among the bands featured this week as the Bucs played mostly hard rock and heavy metal during the workouts.
Schiano, who is a big Bruce Springsteen fan, said he has so far had no input on the play list, but the players, citing the emphasis so far on mostly ’80s and ’90s metal, aren’t so sure.
“If it’s not Coach picking the songs then it must be someone who’s working for (him) picking them,” linebacker Dekoda Watson said. “But either way, it’s still better than that white noise we used to have.
“It’s still a good way to challenge you because some of the songs, they’re very, very good and you might want to dance to them, but you’re on the field and you can’t dance to them out there, so it’s a good distraction.”
Take that ball away
The Bucs forced only two takeaways — both interceptions — in their first two preseason games. For a team that emphasizes that aspect of the game as much as anything, that number is too low, Schiano said.
“I wish we had more and we’ve talked about that, because there are some things we’re not doing well enough to create those,” Schiano said. “They’re little things, but until we do them I wouldn’t expect us to get more.”
Schiano would not say specifically what the Bucs are not doing to improve their chances of taking the ball away, but he suggested that improved focus and fundamentals in that area will solve the problem.
“I don’t know if you can emphasize it more than we do, so we kind of just slowed it down and said, ‘Guys, understand, let’s not ever just go through the motions on this stuff.’ So hopefully we’ll create a few more.”
Takeaways aren’t the only thing the Bucs defense is failing to produce. The team has so far produced just one sack – that off a blitz by WLB Lavonte David against Baltimore. … WR Chris Owusu (high ankle sprain) was back on the field working with a trainer on Thursday. Owusu is battling Kevin Ogletree and Tiquan Underwood for the third receiver spot.