The staph infections suffered by two Tampa Bay Buccaneers players has been one of the biggest health and safety issues of the season. The NFL Physicians Society last week called on all 32 teams to be on alert for MRSA around franchise facilities, with a handful of teams reportedly disinfecting their locker rooms.
Nicks, who has missed nearly a month of work because of a MRSA infection on his left foot, returned to practice Wednesday and could return to the lineup for Sunday's home opener against the New Orleans Saints.
"I'm MRSA clear," Nicks declared after participating in a limited fashion in Wednesday's workout at One Buc Place. "I'm all right. Just trying to get back out there and hopefully I'll be ready for this game."
Nicks said it was frustrating to be away from the Bucs while he recovered from the infection.
"Anytime you get any kind of injury like that, there's pain," he said, "but it was more mental than anything. I wasn't really scared, just irritated that I couldn't be out there with my guys."
Fox News reported Monday that the other staph victim, kicker Lawrence Tynes, is at odds with the Bucs, who have placed him on the non-injury football list. That designation keeps the team from being at fault for the injury.
Tynes, who is still fighting the disease with antibiotics, contracted MRSA after having an ingrown toenail on his kicking foot lanced by Bucs doctors at one of the team's facilities.
Though he wouldn't go into details about how he thinks he contracted the superbug, Tynes told Fox Sports that "the individuals that have tested positive for staph or MRSA, we feel very strongly about where it came from."
However, the Buccaneers are not as certain. Rather than place Tynes on Injured Reserve (IR), the Buccaneers have agreed to pay his base salary while he is on the non-football-injury list this season â a move that implies Tynes has no proof that the MRSA infection originated from their facility. Athletes who go on IR are also entitled to their full salary, as well as an accrued season, full benefits and another season toward their pensions.
Because of what Tynes believes to be misdiagnosis and mistreatment of his condition, he said he is no longer staying silent on the issue and that the NFL Players Association is helping him to file an expedited grievance, potentially forcing the Buccaneers to place him on Injured Reserve.
"This whole thing is wrong," Tynes told Fox Sports. "My biggest emphasis is I don't want this to happen to any current or future player. I'm going to fight this thing as long as I have to, because this team should not be allowed to do this to players.
-- Bill Bradley, contributing editor