The Pittsburgh Steelers, already underdogs as they go to Foxborough for the AFC championship game, didn’t need any more hurdles to cross.
But as the team prepares for the New England Patriots, almost a third of the team is reportedly battling a flu bug.
Four Steelers players didn’t practice Wednesday because of “illness,” and tight end Ladarius Green was added to Thursday’s report with the same designation. ESPN said that according to Steelers receiver Cobi Hamilton, 15 Steelers have been affected.
“We’re not making excuses,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said, according to ESPN. There won’t be. We’ll be there, we’ll be ready to play, this is just part of normal things that happen over the course of a season.”
The good news is that the four players who were out on Wednesday – kicker Chris Boswell, center B.J. Finney, receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and quarterback Zach Mettenberger – all practiced Thursday. But it’s not ideal for multiple Steelers players to be weakened by the flu, especially at the end of a long and grueling season.
Running back Le’Veon Bell was also out of practice due to what Tomlin described as personal reasons, but it didn’t sound like there was any concern about his absence.
The Patriots will be tough to beat at home in an AFC championship game. If the Steelers are spending the week trying to get over the flu, it doesn’t make their challenge any easier.
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