Just when it couldn’t get any worse for the woeful Cleveland Browns, it got worse.
The team has been sacked by the flu.
On Wednesday, 12 players, including Pro Bowl nose tackle Shaun Rogers and five other starters, missed practice with flu-like symptoms as the team began installing the game plan for Sunday’s matchup against the Green Bay Packers.
Coach Eric Mangini scaled back the workout in hopes of keeping his healthy players from getting sick. He’s also emphasizing preventive measures to stop the virus from spreading deeper through the team. If players are showing any symptoms, the Browns are sending them home.
“We’re being really aggressive preventatively,” he said. “If there’s any sign of it and we think it’s heading that way, we’d much rather try to minimize the effects on the player and also possibly the exposure to the rest of the group.”
Mangini implied the sick players had not yet been tested for H1N1 virus. He said some of the cases were new, and he might not be able to reveal any test results because of medical privacy laws.
As the Browns were practicing, a large box with white pharmacy bags containing Tamiflu, a prescribed medicine to treat and prevent flu, was delivered to the team’s headquarters in Berea, Ohio.
Mangini is hopeful his players recover in time for Sunday’s game, but if they aren’t healthy, the NFL has roster provisions to protect teams overwhelmed by swine flu. Teams can receive a maximum of eight roster exemptions for players having or are suspected of having swine flu.
The Browns are ranked at or near the bottom in virtually every team statistic, and the flu bug hit in the same week they lost their leading tackler, linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, to a season-ending shoulder injury. He had surgery Wednesday and is expected to make a full recovery in 12 weeks.
Green back with Packers
The Green Bay Packers have signed running back Ahman Green, bringing back another veteran.
Faced with a need at the position after third-down back DeShawn Wynn hurt his knee, the Packers turned to Green, who has been out of football since being cut by Houston in February. He left the Packers to sign with the Texans as a free agent for the 2007 season but struggled, gaining 554 yards in 14 games over two seasons.
Green needs 46 more yards to surpass Jim Taylor’s franchise rushing record of 8,207.
Jets players fined $5,000
New York Jets safety James Ihedigbo and linebacker Marques Murrell were each fined $5,000 by the NFL for their roles in a scuffle with Buffalo’s Derek Fine.
Ihedigbo was blocking on the opening kickoff of overtime in the Jets’ 16-13 loss Sunday when Murrell knocked Fine’s helmet off and appeared to strike him in an eye. Ihedigbo then took a swing at the Bills’ tight end, was assessed a personal-foul penalty and ejected. Murrell wasn’t penalized.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Trent Edwards missed practice days after sustaining a concussion, making backup Ryan Fitzpatrick the likely starter at Carolina this weekend. The third-year starter was knocked out while being sacked early in the second quarter of a 16-13 overtime win at the New York Jets on Sunday. … Chicago Bears strongside linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa needs season-ending surgery to repair ligament damage in his right knee during last week’s 21-14 loss at Atlanta. He had just returned after tearing the posterior cruciate ligament in the season opener at Green Bay. … Arizona wide receiver Anquan Boldin (ankle) remains uncertain for Sunday night’s game against the New York Giants.