Carl Nicks aiming for training camp

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are about to begin the first minicamp practice under new coach Lovie Smith. But All-Pro guard Carl Nicks will not be taking part in the drills.

Although the team previously had expressed optimism that Nicks would be able to participate in the offseason program, Nicks said he still is in the rehabilitation process. Nicks missed all but two games last season with a toe injury and a MRSA staph infection. Nicks said he wouldn't try to estimate where his recovery stands, but sounded optimistic he'll get back on the field

"I don't know about a percentage," Nicks said. "I'm not a percentage guy. I've never been that guy. But obviously I'm not ready to practice right now. But I feel comfortable saying I'll be back for training camp."

That would be good news for an offensive line that's been overhauled this offseason. But Nicks, who first revealed there was nerve damage to his toe last year, said he might have to play through pain the rest of his career.

"There's some nerve damage, so there's going to be pain, from what I've been told, for the rest of my life," Nicks said.

Nicks said he wasn't sure if the nerve damage was caused by the toe injury or the MRSA.

"That's a good question," Nicks said. "I wish I had the answer."

Nicks said he might return at less than 100 percent, but said he remains confident he'll return to the playing field.

"Lovie told me the other day my 80 percent is still pretty good," Nicks said. "If I'm not 100 percent, hopefully I can get 95 or 99.99 and I'd be happy with it."

Nicks said he's anxious to play again.

"I've got the chicken pox when it comes to that," Nicks said. "Scratching it all the time. Very itchy. I don't want to force it, I don't want to rush it. When I come back I want to be able to play more than two games."