Third Buc tests positive for MRSA

TAMPA, Fla. -- A third Tampa Bay Buccaneers player has been diagnosed with an MRSA infection, and the team brought in an infectious disease specialist to address concerns Friday.

Bucs general manager Mark Dominik and coach Greg Schiano declined to identify the third player involved in the case diagnosed late Thursday, citing HIPAA laws and saying the player requested his name not be released.

"I've spoken to the player, I've spoken to his agent and we're not at liberty to confirm or deny any player right now," Dominik said.

NFL.com reported the player was rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks.

Dr. Deverick J. Anderson, co-director of Duke Infection Control Outreach Network, met with players as the start of practice was delayed about 90 minutes. After that, Anderson met with staff members.

Anderson said the Buccaneers, who host the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, have handled the situation as well as possible.

"I can say that I believe it is a safe environment for the players and staff, and I think there are a few reasons why I can say that," he said. "I got to come and review the facilities about a month ago, and I got to see how practice was performed, and based on my observations, I didn't think there was anything very high risk."

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith issued a statement Friday saying he was pleased with the Bucs' decision to bring in an outside expert but that the NFL needed to step up its regulations regarding this matter.

"This underscores the need for a League-wide, comprehensive and standardized infectious disease protocol. It also calls for improved accountability measures on health and safety issues by the NFL over the clubs," Smith said in the statement.

Smith also said the union will continue to contact player reps in Tampa and Philadelphia and "provide them with our best medical guidance and regular updates from the outside experts."

An NFL representative said the league has nothing planned that will affect the game. The league said it will continue to work with the NFLPA and that appropriate medical specialists are working with the Buccaneers' medical staff to aggressively address the matter.

Kicker Lawrence Tynes and guard Carl Nicks previously were diagnosed with MRSA, which is resistant to some antibiotics. Nicks came back and played in two games before he was diagnosed with a recurrence Thursday.

Anderson said neither Tynes nor Nicks caught the infection from the other.

"We can definitively say that the first two cases were really not related to each other," Anderson said.

Anderson said he couldn't yet say whether the third player caught the infection from Tynes or Nicks.

Tynes has been placed on the nonfootball injury list. The NFLPA has filed a grievance on his behalf against the Buccaneers, seeking to get him placed on injured reserve. The designation would allow Tynes, who is being paid his salary, to accrue another season toward retirement benefits.

Nicks' recurrence could be a sign that he might need surgery to scrape the infection off a bone in his foot, Anderson said.

"When we found out that there was another situation, certainly we were concerned and immediately did what we thought was best, and that was to get one of the premier people in the United States to talk to our team about it," Schiano said. "It's that serious in our mind to alleviate as much anxiety as we could in our players' minds.

"I thought the over-an-hour meeting we had with [Anderson] was excellent. He spoke for a little bit, and then it was close to an hour of guys asking questions that they really wanted to know the answers to."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.