Carl Nicks eyes training camp return

TAMPA, Fla. -- Although he said he expects to deal with pain for the rest of his career, Buccaneers All-Pro guard Carl Nicks said he plans to be ready for the start of training camp.

Nicks was limited to two games last season by an injured toe and a MRSA infection that recurred. Nicks had missed some of the team's recent organized team activities, but was at One Buccaneer Place for the opening of mandatory minicamp Tuesday.

"My status is on schedule," Nicks said. "I'm looking forward to being ready for training camp."

Nicks said he has been limited to running on an elliptical machine, but he hopes to start running and cutting on grass in the next few weeks. He said he expects to be limited at the start of training camp.

"I think I'll have a modified schedule, but I think I'll be able to play football and that's what I'm trying to do," Nicks said.

Nicks previously said there was some permanent damage to his foot and he reiterated that Tuesday.

"There's always going to be pain," Nicks said. "It's just how much I think I can deal with and I think I have a high tolerance for pain, so I think I'll be able to deal with it."

Coach Lovie Smith sounded cautiously optimistic that Nicks will be ready for camp.

"As much as I know about it right now, Carl hasn't been around as much as some of the other players, but he was here Monday when we had official physicals and passed his physical," Smith said. "From there, he has a long ways to go, like all of our players when they initially start working out.

"My expectations for Carl are the same as anybody else. We'll just take it one day at a time. We'll kind of see where he is right now. We have a big break in between. No player has an injury that I'm really concerned about that's going to hinder them starting to work out, as I see it right now, when we come back. That includes Carl from what I know right now."