TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
You could see them both coming from miles away. First, the Buccaneers had to leave the field nine minutes into their first practice of training camp. Then, just a few minutes later, the team announced it had “mutually agreed’’ to part ways with guard Carl Nicks. Neither event was a surprise. Let’s start with the weather. It’s Florida, it’s July and it's 4:30 p.m. ET. Thunderstorms are the norm. Maybe coach Lovie Smith’s practice schedule isn’t such a good idea. And maybe it’s time for the Bucs to get an indoor practice facility. The team resumed practice at 6:30 p.m., but had to stop again at 7:11. The Bucs got in 50 minutes of practice time, but they did have a 90-minute walkthrough earlier in the day.
I speculated this morning that Nicks might be contemplating retirement. I wasn’t exactly going out on a limb. Anyone who followed what was going on with Nicks during the offseason could have predicted an ending like this. Nicks appeared in only two games last season due to a toe injury and a MRSA infection. While sitting out the entire offseason program, Nicks said there was permanent damage to his toe. He tried to get back on the field, but never came close.
Let’s be brutally honest here. Without Nicks, the Bucs are in rough shape at guard. They have Patrick Omameh, Oneil Cousins, Jamon Meredith and rookie Kadeem Edwards to compete for the starting job on the left side. I think it’s safe to say the Bucs will be watching the waiver wire closely for guards.
More than ever, this is Gerald McCoy’s team. The defensive tackle was the first player on the field, coming out 30 minutes before practice. McCoy already was a leader. But, with cornerback Darrelle Revis gone, McCoy is the highest-profile player on the defense.
It was tough to pick out standouts in the abbreviated practice because the Bucs didn’t even get to team drills. But two players stood out. Linebacker Jonathan Casillas had a nice pass breakup in seven-on-seven drills. Casillas did some good things last year, but dealt with some injuries. I’d like to see what Casillas can do over the course of a full season on the strong side. The other player who caught my eye was wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins, who made a nice catch on a deep pass. There’s a logjam at wide receiver after starters Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. Hawkins has six years of NFL experience and could contend for a roster spot.