TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers say a third player has been diagnosed with MRSA, a staph infection that is resistant to many common antibiotics.
General manager Mark Dominik made the announcement Friday, a day after confirming guard Carl Nicks is being treated for a recurrence of MRSA.
Dominik and coach Greg Schiano declined to identify the third player involved in the case diagnosed late Thursday, 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.
The second-round draft pick out of Mississippi State was the only new addition Friday to the injury report, which said Banks did not practice due to illness. Banks is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against Philadelphia.
Nicks, who along with kicker Lawrence Tynes was diagnosed as having MRSA in August, also sat out practice. He is questionable to play against Philadelphia.
The team flew in an infectious disease expert to answer questions players had before practice. Schiano said the session lasted more than an hour, pushing back the team’s practice schedule.
“As in anything, I think so much of the fear is the unknown,” Schiano said. “So as we became better educated, I think kind of understands the game plan and how to make sure this doesn’t become a bigger problem.”
Dr. Deverick J. Anderson, an associate professor of medicine at the Duke University Medical Center and co-director of the Duke Infection Control Outwork Network said even though there are no other confirmed cases of MRSA on other NFL teams that he doesn’t feel players and staff in Tampa Bay are at any higher risk of coming in contact with MRSA.
Meanwhile, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith issued a statement on the situation.
“We have been involved in an ongoing review of the MRSA incidents in Tampa Bay initiated by the concerns we had about the manner in which team officials responded to these cases,” Smith said in a statement.
“We advised the NFL and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that an outside expert should be brought in to assess the situation and we are pleased with their decision to take that recommendation,” Smith added. “We have also been in regular contact with the player representatives from Tampa Bay. We will reach out to the Philadelphia Eagles player representatives today and provide them with our best medical guidance and regular updates from the outside experts.”
Smith said the situation in Tampa “underscores the need for a League-wide, comprehensive and standardized infectious disease protocol” as well as “improved accountability measures on health and safety issues by the NFL over the clubs.”
The initial cases of MRSA were confirmed while the Bucs were in New England holding joint practices with the Patriots before a preseason game. The team hired a company to sanitize One Buc Place, the team’s headquarters and training facility, on two separate occasions in an effort to minimize the prospect of other cases.
The Bucs said at the time they did not know where Nicks and Tynes were exposed to MRSA.
Anderson did not plan to recommend a third cleaning of the facility, but that he was working with the team on things players can do themselves to minimize the risk of getting MRSA.
“I can say that I believe it is a safe environment for players and staff,” said Anderson, who toured the complex in August and also observed how the team practices after Nicks and Tynes were diagnosed in August.
The expert said the cases involving Nicks and Tynes do not appear to be related, explaining there are different strains of MRSA.
“We don’t know about the third one yet. We still need additional information about the specific MRSA that we’re dealing with,” Anderson said. “But we can actually definitely say that the first two cases were not related to each other.”
And, the doctor said Nicks and Tynes did not get the infection from one another.
Nicks sat out the preseason and also missed the first two games of the regular season before being told he was “MRSA free.” He started the past two games against New England and Arizona.
Tynes, who helped the New York Giants win a pair of Super Bowls, signed with the Bucs before training camp. He was sidelined by an ingrown toenail on his kicking foot when he was diagnosed as having MRSA.
The Bucs later placed Tynes on the non-football injury list instead of injured reserve. He is being paid his salary, however the players union has filed a grievance on the kicker’s behalf due concerns about how the team handled the infection.
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