FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Tampa Bay offensive guard Carl Nicks expects to play in his first game in 10 months when the Buccaneers face the New England Patriots in an exhibition game Friday night.
While Bucs coach Greg Schiano wouldn't commit to using Nicks, who is recovering from a left toe injury, the 2011 All-Pro said Thursday, "I think that's the plan now, unless something changes."
Nicks last played Oct. 25 but took part in the three days of joint practices with the Patriots that ended with a walkthrough Thursday.
Schiano thought Nicks would play but wanted to wait before making a final decision.
"I just want to play it by ear, see how he feels," Schiano said. "Right now, it isn't what I'm concerned with. Although I want to get him work if he can, I'm not going to be overly cautious, but, at the same time, I don't want to be silly."
Nicks played all 64 games with the New Orleans Saints after they drafted him in the fifth round out of Nebraska in 2009. But he was limited to seven games last year with Tampa Bay.
Nicks said he wasn't nervous about coming back.
"If I was a rookie or maybe a second-year guy, maybe," he said, "but it's just another day at the office."
And, he said, he's "as confident as I can be. This kind of injury, I don't know many people have it. (I'm) as confident as (I can be with) the information I've been told."
Schiano said he's still deciding how many plays his first team offense and defense will get against the Patriots.
There's a chance the Bucs will be facing Tom Brady, an unlikely prospect when the Patriots quarterback left Wednesday's practice with a sprained left knee.
But on Thursday, Brady took all the snaps with the first-team offense and played without a limp. He was hurt when defensive end Adrian Clayborn rushed left tackle Nate Solder, who fell back into Brady, forcing the quarterback to the ground where he clutched his knee.
"It's just unfortunate," Schiano said. "You talk all the time about letting them throw and the bull-rush stuff, but I'm glad he's OK and it's one of the dangers. You keep warning (players), but it's hard, especially when they get competing with each other. So it's part of the deal. We've just got to try to prevent it, if at all possible."
Did Clayborn do anything wrong in charging hard?
"I just think everybody's playing football," Schiano said. "I'm not going to get into right or wrong. It's an inherent risk with what we do. We try to be really smart with it. They try to be really smart with it. It was just a great three days of work. You can't get this against yourself. So I'm really pleased."