CLEMSON - With TCU coming to town, it's a strange coincidence that its most recognizable football alum represents the greatest concern for Clemson senior running back C.J. Spiller.
Spiller said Tuesday that his lingering discomfort is essentially turf toe - an injury whose primary cure is prolonged rest, which Spiller's feet won't figure to get until season's end.
To that end, turf toe has an impact on the cutting ability of a running back. The injury has gradually curtailed the effectiveness last season of high-profile NFL backs Darren McFadden and former Horned Frogs star LaDainian Tomlinson.
Spiller said reporters can quit wasting their breath asking if the toe will keep him out of games - he's playing - but he admitted his challenge will be preventing the injury from becoming a mental hurdle that gives him pause before every move.
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"It hurts all over," Spiller said. "But it's something I'm going to have to play through as long as I can.
"The good thing is it feels a whole lot better today than it did Saturday, and it's a big difference. But even the weather can make it hurt."
No new cases of the flu were officially reported within Clemson's football team Tuesday, and starting defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins was cleared to attend practice as a spectator.
On Monday, six players were sidelined because of the flu, including starting center Mason Cloy. One of those six - reserve lineman Kenneth Page - returned Tuesday.
While team doctors are not testing to determine if it is swine flu because the treatment would be the same regardless, senior tight end Michael Palmer a multitude of players have come down with either the flu or a cold.
"It seems like everybody's fighting a little something right now," Palmer said. "They're giving out medicine like it's candy."
Coach Dabo Swinney said the team has tried to be vigilant with prevention by asking players to take vitamins, use plenty of hand sanitizer and avoid using others' cell phones.
Junior left tackle Chris Hairston (sprained MCL) did not practice Tuesday, and while Hairston said today is the target date for deciding his availability for Saturday's game, Swinney suggested that Hairston is one few player who would not need to practice in order to be allowed to play.
"He'll mentally practice, and the good thing about Chris. He's as smart a player as we've got," Swinney said. "He can take it from the film room and go play Saturday."
TCU finished last season ranked No. 7 after going 11-2, with its only losses coming to No. 2 Utah and No. 5 Oklahoma.
The Horned Frogs were beaten 35-10 on the road by the Sooners last September, and coach Gary Patterson said Tuesday that Clemson is the most athletic squad TCU will have faced since.
"Defensively, they have five to seven NFL players," Patterson said.