Johnthan Banks cleared to play

Updated: October 13, 2013, 2:38 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Cornerback Johnthan Banks, the third Tampa Bay Buccaneers player diagnosed with MRSA, is not a risk to transmit the severe staph infection to other players and has been cleared to play Sunday, the league announced Saturday night.

[+] EnlargeJohnthan Banks
Al Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesJohnthan Banks (27), the third known Tampa Bay player to have MRSA, has been cleared to face the Eagles on Sunday.

In a statement, the NFL said it worked together with the players' association and that a "jointly retained specialist has met with the team, supervised the inspection of the facilities, conducted medical examinations and agrees with the team medical staff that Mr. Banks does not pose a risk of transmission to other players."

The league also said the specialist met with team officials from the Philadelphia Eagles, whom the Bucs host on Sunday.

Banks was recently diagnosed with MRSA, the severe staph infection resistant to most antibiotics.

The NFLPA had questioned whether the game should be played at Raymond James Stadium because of concern that the players would be at risk to contract the infection at the Bucs' facility.

However, an independent specialist, Dr. Deverick Anderson from Duke, has concurred that Banks does not pose a risk of transmission to other players when the Bucs play the Eagles, who also have been consulted.

Two other Buccaneers players -- kicker Lawrence Tynes and guard Carl Nicks -- contracted MRSA in August. Tynes, who has since been placed on the non-football injury list, is still being treated for the infection. Nicks did not play until Week 3 because of the infection.

Nicks' status is more tenuous after he had a recurrence of a MRSA infection in his toe after developing a blister, sources tell ESPN Senior NFL Insider Chris Mortensen. Dr. Anderson conceded it's possible Nicks could need surgery like Tynes if the second infection gets into the bone of his toe.

League sources tell ESPN that the doctor found substantial evidence the players had three separate strains brought into the facility from the outside. 

On the team's injury report Friday, Banks and Nicks were listed as questionable to play Sunday.

Banks was active for Sunday's game but Nicks was made inactive.

ESPN Senior NFL Insider Chris Mortensen and Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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