The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will likely get their elite left guard back, as head coach Greg Schiano expects Carl Nicks to play in Sunday’s big game against the New England Patriots, according to a tweet from Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. Nicks’s return couldn’t have come at a better time, because Patriots star defensive tackle Vince Wilfork will make mincemeat of a less-than-favorable matchup at left guard. In Week 1, Wilfork flat-out embarrassed Bills terrible left guard Colin Brown, especially in the running game. With backup LG Gabe Carimi out Sunday with an illness, the Buccaneers would have been in an even worse position at left guard.
Now, though, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are expected to have one of the best guards in the game to combat Wilfork, and the news from Schiano is being met with celebration from Bucs fans. Doug Martin is going up against one of the best run defenses in the NFL, as the Patriots have elite run defenders at linebacker, in the secondary, and on the defensive line (Wilfork and run-stopping DE Rob Ninkovich come to mind). Martin is a star in this league, but all running backs need credible blocking (the Buccaneers had a tough time running against the New York Jets in Week 1).
Nicks is so much better than Carimi that it’s not even funny, and that’s particularly true when it comes to run-blocking. It will be interesting to see how rusty Nicks is at the beginning, because he hasn’t played in a game since the middle of the last season.