Buccaneers exploring options at guard

TAMPA, Fla. -- Although coach Greg Schiano said it’s too early to tell if guard Carl Nicks will be able to play in Sunday’s regular-season opener, it seems like a long shot.

Nicks is battling a staph infection and Schiano said his status is uncertain for the game with the New York Jets. But even before the staph infection, Nicks didn’t see any preseason action and was limited in camp as he recovered from a foot injury that cut his season short last year.

That means the Bucs need an alternative if Nicks isn’t ready.

“We have guys on our roster on the offensive line and we’ll just choose one of them,’’ Schiano said. “They all can play guard so one of them will be the starting guard if Carl can’t play.’’

The Bucs have several options. Gabe Carimi, who has spent most of his career at tackle, has gotten some practice time at guard recently. Another scenario would be moving center Jeremy Zuttah to Nicks’ spot and inserting Ted Larsen at center. That’s a move the Bucs have done in the past, but Schiano wouldn’t say if that’s the plan.

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