It seems like the holiday was not all fun and cheer for the New England Patriots.

According to multiple reports, starting kicker Nick Folk will be out Sunday against the Houston Texans after reportedly getting his appendix removed Thursday.

At the same time, eight players – five of whom are starters – missed practice Wednesday because of “flulike symptoms.”

“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 told 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.”

Half of the players who missed Wednesday’s practice due to illness were back on the field Thursday, with linebacker Dont’a Hightower, left tackle Isaiah Wynn, tight end Ryan Izzo and cornerback Joejuan Williams still absent. Patrick Chung, Jamie Collins, Damien Harris and Marcus Cannon returned after missing on Wednesday.

But as the Patriots work through a bout with the flu, they must also address the kicking game. According to the NFL Network, the appendectomy “was done laparoscopically, a minimally invasive procedure which should mean a short recovery time.”

This year, the Patriots have used three kickers. After losing Stephen Gostkowski to a hip injury, the Pats signed Mike Nugent, who was released after three games. The team now needs to add a new kicker before Saturday at 4 p.m., and in a corresponding move release someone from the 53-man roster.

Folk has made 7 of 9 field goals in three games. He’s 3 for 3 on extra-point attempts. Folk started a perfect 5 for 5 with the Patriots before missing two field-goal attempts last Sunday, which saw inclement weather in the Pats win over Dallas.

According to ESPN, the leading candidate for the Patriots is Kai Forbath.

Though he hasn’t been a full-time kicker since 2017, Forbath appeared in three games with the Jaguars last season, hitting 4 of 5 field goals.

Other possible candidates include  Nugent, who has experience with long snapper Joe Cardona and Jake Bailey.

Matt Bryant is 44 and was cut by the Falcons earlier this year after going 9 of 14 over seven games.

Blair Walsh, who last kicked in the regular season for the Seattle Seahawks in 2017, is also out there.


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