The New England Patriots were scrambling, losing their kicker and picking up a little something besides a victory in the chilly rain last week as they prepared for a prime time game Sunday.
Kicker Nick Folk will miss the game after having an appendectomy Thursday morning and eight players – five of whom are starters – missed practice Wednesday because of “flulike symptoms.”
Missing were defensive starters Patrick Chung, Stephon Gilmore, Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins Sr., and offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn. Also out were cornerback Joejuan Williams, running back Damien Harris and tight end Ryan Izzo. Offensive tackle Marcus Cannon was limited after being sick last week.
“This is probably, for me, in my 10 years here, the most guys I’ve seen just be gone from being sick,” safety Devin McCourty said, according to the Boston Herald. “No injuries or anything, we just had guys come in and you look in their eyes and you could just tell they were just out of it. Hopefully a day at home and meds and rest can help guys out.”
The bug’s origin isn’t clear. In the days leading up to last week game, which the Patriots won, 13-9, on a rainy, windy and chilly night, the Cowboys were battling a flu bug and Cannon had been ailing for 48 hours before that game. “We’re all working together on this – the player, the medical staff and the coaching staff. Unless the player is cleared medically, there’s no conversation to be had,” Coach Bill Belichick said. “If the player is cleared medically, then it enters into some element of a coaching, player conversation. As I said, each one is different, and we just try to do the best we can.”
The Patriots planned to practice Thursday and again Friday before flying to Houston on Saturday.
“It’s going around, but we’ve just got to live a healthy lifestyle,” wide receiver Phillip Dorsett said. “Got to wash your hands, got to drink Emergen-C, take vitamins and hope that you don’t catch it.”
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the Patriots would sign another kicker, with Folk expected to be out only about a week, or use rookie punter Jake Bailey. The Patriots have used Stephen Gostkowski and Mike Nugent at kicker this season.