Originally written on The Bay Cave  |  Last updated 12/22/13

When the Buccaneers signed All-Pro left guard Carl Nicks last offseason many praised the organization for getting one of the top interior linemen in the league. The signing also gave Tampa Bay arguably the best offensive line — at least on paper. However, since his signing, Nicks has only played in nine games including two this season.  The 6-foot-5, 349-pound Nicks suffered a toe injury last season forcing him to miss the final nine games. He played a role in helping the Bucs offense become the 15th ranked offense in the league and was part of a unit that allowed just 11 sacks (5th best) through the first seven games. But the sixth-year guard from Nebraska has been faced with a different challenge this season that has limited him to just two games in 2013. Nicks learned he was infected with MRSA in his left foot in August, which is a form of staph which is resistant to antibiotics. It forced him to miss the final preseason game and return for weeks three and four of the regular season. After the Week 4 matchup against Arizona, the MRSA returned to the same location prompting surgery as the infection got into the bone of his foot. His return for this season would be in doubt and with each passing week, the Buccaneers would never place Nicks on injured reserve. This past week, Bucs’ head coach Greg Schiano confirmed Nicks would miss the final two weeks of the season. Many began wondering if this would jeopardize Nicks’ career not just with the team, but his entire playing career. TheBayCave.com spoke with Benjamin Wedro, MD of Wisconsin about MRSA and how the process works in treating the infection. He also details the length of time antibiotic treatment can go for. “Antibiotics are recommended for a minimum of 8 weeks to “cure’ the infection,” Dr. Wedro said. “The way the antibiotics are given may be either oral or intravenously. There is further recommendation that oral antibiotics may be beneficial if continued for a further 1-3 months.” Nicks’ version of the infection resisted antibiotics. Discovering the infection in August to then have surgery to remove it in October gives it about a minimum two-month span of antibiotic treatment that saw the recurrence of the infection. But combining both the surgery and the antibiotics, Nicks should be able to continue his career without an issue. “The goal of treatment including the surgery and antibiotics, is to make the patient infection-free and that would allow Mr. Nicks to practice and play next season,” Dr. Wedro said. “There should not be any reason why he cannot begin working out to maintain fitness while he is being treated. “The purpose of the antibiotic treatment is to eradicate the infection. He should be MRSA infection free and able to continue his career. The antibiotics are for a defined period of time and the infection should not come back once they are stopped.” This certainly comes as good news for not just the Bucs’ but more importantly for Nicks’ health. The potential for a MRSA-free recovery and the ability to continue his career is the most clarification we’ve received. Coach Schiano stated he hoped Nicks would get well and they would have him back. After speaking to Dr. Wedro, the hope meter seems to be leaning slightly more towards the side of certainty. Follow Gil on Twitter: @GilArciaTBC Dr. Benajamin Wedro practices out of a regional trauma center in La Crosse,Wisconsin. He’s also a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin and has written about MRSA and the Buccaneers on his medical blog, MDdirect.org.

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