TAMPA — After a five-week grind of training camp and preseason games, Johnthan Banks figures he has earned a new job description.
“I can actually call myself a pro now,’’ Tampa Bay’s rookie cornerback said as the Bucs prepare for Sunday’s season opener against the New York Jets at the Meadowlands. “Now, I’m getting into a real game routine, game-planning and getting in the swing of things.’’
A second-round draft pick out of Mississippi State, Banks won the Jim Thorpe Award in 2012 as the nation’s premier defensive back. Banks and Clearwater native Leonard Johnson are vying for playing time opposite All-Pro CB Darrelle Revis, who is slated to make his Tampa Bay debut Sunday at Met Life Stadium.
“Camp was something we all had to go through,’’ said Banks, who will have his wife and son watching from the stands Sunday. “Looking back, it was a big learning process. I’m glad I experienced it and now it’s time to move on. I know one thing for sure — it’s going to be exciting for me to run through that tunnel.’’
Even if he doesn’t start, Banks figures to log plenty of playing time as a nickel back in Tampa Bay’s overhauled secondary.
“I’m a rookie and I’ve got Revis on the other side, so me or L.J. (Johnson) will have our work cut out for us,’’ Banks said. “We get paid to do this. We’ve just got to go out there and hold up.’’
The Bucs declined comment on veteran K Lawrence Tynes, who is being treated for an MRSA (toe) infection at home in Kansas City, Mo.
Tynes was placed on the Non-Football Injury List on Saturday and the Bucs said they would pay him his $840,000 base salary, although they are not obligated to do so by NFL rules. On Sunday, Tynes’ agent, Ken Harris, told the Tribune his client plans to file a grievance against the organization for not placing Tynes on injured reserve — a status which would provide Tynes with another year of accrued service for his NFL pension.
“I am not going to be able to publicly comment on that,’’ Bucs coach Greg Schiano said of the brewing controversy. “I’m not being evasive, that’s just what I have to do.’’
Bucs G Carl Nicks remains in Tampa, receiving treatment for a MRSA infection on the side of his left foot. Nicks is still on the 53-man active roster, but his status for Sunday’s opener is uncertain.
Mystery under center
The Jets may not announce their starting quarterback until late in the week. Beleaguered veteran Mark Sanchez, battling a shoulder injury, didn’t practice Monday and second-round draft choice Geno Smith is also in the mix, and the Jets added journeyman Brady Quinn to their roster on Monday.
“We’re not sure which quarterback we’ll be facing,’’ Bucs OLB Lavonte David said. “We’ll prepare for them both (Sanchez and Smith) because they use them in different ways.’’
While Sanchez prefers to throw from the pocket, Smith’s mobility stamps him as more of a threat on the run.
The Eagles claimed ex-Bucs LB Najee Goode off waivers. ... Jets coach Rex Ryan said WR Santonio Holmes, who hasn’t played in almost a year due to a left foot injury, practiced on a limited basis Monday. Ryan labeled Holmes “a difference-maker.’’