Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 8/7/12
TAMPA, Fla. If the Tampa Bay Bucs are going to put up a good front this season, Carl Nicks is just the man to help them do it. The All-Pro left offensive guard, regarded as one of the leagues best with the New Orleans Saints, has the goods to take a solid Bucs offensive line to the next level. The 6-5, 343-pounder was a key element in the Saints ability to pass protect for Drew Brees and open holes for the ground game, and he has a Super Bowl ring to show for his efforts. Thats why Bucs GM Mark Dominik moved to quickly to sign the fifth-year star out of Nebraska when the free agency window opened in March, paying a bundle at 47 million over five years. But the investment will be well worth it if the burly 27-year-old lives up to expectations: protecting their greatest asset, franchise quarterback Josh Freeman, improving the passing game and giving top Tampa Bay tailbacks Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount more room to run. The Bucs ranked 30th in rushing out of 32 teams last year, and were the leagues 16th-rated passing team during the 4-12 debacle of 2011. But from what Nicks has seen so far in camp, the offensive line has the talent to become a dominant unit. Absolutely, he said. It all starts up front with the line. Were going to be the leaders of this team I believe. And were going to win and lose games off our backs. Thats how I take it and how our whole offensive line has got to take it. Nicks joins a line that already features Pro Bowl right guard Davin Joseph, entering the second season of a seven-year deal paying him 52.5 million. Left tackle Donald Penn, another Pro Bowler, is only in the third year of a six-year, 48-million contract. Penn is currently sidelined with a calf injury that could limit him in camp. But the Bucs also boast a tough veteran right tackle in 6-foot-8, 320-pound lineman Jeremy Trueblood. Jeremy Zuttah, who played under Bucs head coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers, replaces departed veteran Jeff Faine, having earned Schianos stamp of approval. And when Penn returns, the line looks formidable indeed with the addition of Nicks to the mix. Hes just going to make our line solid from left to right, Joseph said. We had a very good line last year, but his level of play, of course, is All-Pro status. So hes going to make Donald Penn a lot better, hes going to make Jeremy Zuttah a lot better, hes going to make me a lot better. Nicks recognizes the offense, and team in general, will look to him for leadership, and he hopes to contribute in that role any way he can, whether its a couple of words here and there or by showing fellow players by example: If 350 can run that way, I should be able to run like that. I just try to do whatever I feel is necessary. Im kind of looked at as the veteran, and this is barely my fifth year, he added. So its kind of a different role for me. Were a young team with a lot of talent. We just have to come together, and our attention to detail has to be second to none. And our game preparation has to be the best. Thats the approach the detail-oriented Schiano is known for, and Nicks embraces it fully. He also likes the offensive philosophy that his new head coach espouses, placing a heavy emphasis on the running game to set up the pass. He comes from a Saints offense famous for its pass-happy attack of one of the games best quarterbacks, Drew Brees. But Nicks thrives of getting physical in the ground game as well. The first thing is it gets the defensive line tired, he said. You can wear them down and that helps your pass protection. Another thing is knocking the guy down and just seeing the tiredness and hurt in his eyes. You just thrive off that. If I can maul somebody on every play, thats what Im going to do. And in pass protection, theyre going to be tired, and Im just going to maul you. Im excited. The Saints excelled at both phases of the offense, ranking first in total offense last year (467 yards per game), first in passing (334) and sixth in rushing (133). Suffice it say, Nicks is equally comfortable and adept in all facets of his position. Some people might have called the Saints a passing team, but at the end of the day they had to run the ball, he said. So its going to be physical no matter where youre at. Nicks was a pillar of the Big Three free agent additions, signed in a flurry along with standout San Diego wide receiver Vincent Jackson (five years, 55 million) and Lions cornerback Eric Wright (five years, 37.5 million). Thats another source of excitement for Nicks: seeing the commitment from the front office to winning now, not simply building for the future. Its not a rebuilding year, he said. Were trying to win. Were trying to shock some teams, kind of like Detroit did after few years of not doing so well. And now San Francisco has shocked the world. Were trying to do something like that, bring in veteran guys, skill guys and Pro Bowlers. Its going to be fun to see what we do out there.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Eddie Lacy defends Mike McCarthy for weight loss comments

Red Sox nearly had serious catcher emergency in loss to Tigers

Ohio State DL Dylan Thompson ineligible for season

Roger Federer will miss Olympics, U.S. Open with knee injury

Seahawks extend Pete Carroll through 2019

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye releases first statement following car crash

Report: Brock Osweiler could have made more money staying with Broncos

Andrew Luck: Feels `as good as I've ever felt` for training camp

Amar'e Stoudemire announces retirement after signing one-day contract with Knicks

Report: Gregory failed multiple drug tests since suspension

Olympian Abby Johnston: Worst thing about Olympic village is no Pokemon

Jeremy Lin reportedly looking to trademark phrase ‘Brook-Lin’

Matt Leinart engaged to actress Josie Loren

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

Report: Paul Pierce to return to Clippers

Jimbo Fisher: You come to FSU to win national championships

Andre Johnson worked out for Tennessee Titans

Shattenkirk for Krejci trade rumor still floating around

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman denies link to C.T.E.

Michael Vick: Cam Newton can’t beat me in 40-yard dash

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

Odell Beckham Jr. says Giants will play in Super Bowl LI

Iowa researchers say they can optimize Monday Night Football ratings with scheduling

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker