Carl Nicks could return against Saints

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard Carl Nicks hasn’t been ruled out for Sunday’s game against his former team, the New Orleans Saints.

“There’s a chance," coach Greg Schiano said when asked if Nicks, who returned to practice for the first time since August on Monday, could play Sunday.

Nicks had been sidelined by a MRSA staph infection. He was seen running on the sideline with a trainer during the portion of practice that was open to the media Friday.

But Schiano stopped well short of saying Nicks will be in the starting lineup against the Saints.

“Certainly, conditioning is a concern because when he was fighting the infection, it wasn’t like he did light conditioning," Schiano said. “He did nothing, and that was mandatory by the doctors. He has to get back into playing shape. How you do it is play. You can run, you can jog and you’ve got to do that. But, then, there’s that other step."

While it’s possible the Bucs could let Nicks play on a limited basis, it seems more likely they’ll wait at least another week before putting him in the lineup.

“It’s going to be a little bit of a process no matter when that first time he plays is," Schiano said. “But we’ll just keep moving him forward, because Carl’s a dominant player and we need to get him back."

Schiano said cornerback Michael Adams (knee) and tight end Tom Crabtree (ankle) have been ruled out for Sunday.