Wash your hands, people.
Flu season is here, and it appears it has hit the New England Patriots locker room.
Eight players including cornerback Stephon Gilmore and linebacker Dont'a Hightower missed Wednesday's practice at Gillette Stadium due to illness. Patriots captain Devin McCourty addressed the issue on Wednesday, saying it's unlike anything he's seen in his 10-year career.
"It was rough today. We had a lot of guys come in here and got sent home," McCourty told reporters. "Those are tough situations. You don't know how you're going to feel. But, you know, we talked about last week [Marcus] Cannon is a guy who was sick all week and fought through the game. So we've got a lot of tough guys, but we've got to kind of see how it goes throughout the week.
"For me, in my 10 years here, this is probably the most guys I've seen be gone with just being sick. Guys came in, you look in their eyes and you could tell they were just out of it. So hopefully a day at home with meds and rest will help guys out."
Marcus Cannon battled through his illness to play in Sunday's win over the Cowboys and received high praise from head coach Bill Belichick afterward for his efforts.
Players will look to follow in Cannon's footsteps in their upcoming Sunday Night Football matchup vs. the Houston Texans.
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Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman and center Ted Karras, who were each listed as questionable with injuries, made the trip to Cincinnati with the team Saturday but backup defensive tackle Byron Cowart was downgraded to out with a concussion, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss.
Edelman, the team's leading receiver, has been battling shoulder and ankle injuries. Karras, the starting center, missed the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday with a knee injury. Both were limited in practice this week.
The Patriots (10-3), coming off back-to-back losses to the Houston Texans and Chiefs, play the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Here we have two teams at opposite ends of the food chain. The 10-3 Patriots and the 1-12 Bengals. Unfortunately, they have one thing in common. Neither one scores much. The Bengals high for the season is 23 points and that was in Week 4. They’ve only scored more than 20 points twice.
The Patriots have scored fewer than three offensive touchdowns in five out of six games and the lone game they scored three – in Houston – two came in the very late stages after falling behind 21-3. So this game has the potential to look like a Patriots-Bengals from the not-so-distant past. Not the “On to Cincinnati” game people remember from 2014, but the ugly slog in the rain a year earlier when the Patriots lost 13-6 at Cincy.
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So many elements are the same now for the Patriots offense – limited talent at wideout and a lack of protection up front.
Because of the Patriots' offensive struggles, what seemed for months like a simple walkover has the potential to be uncomfortably competitive.