Safety Ryan Clark won’t play in Denver for the fourth time since 2007 because of a sickle-cell trait that exposes him to health risks at higher altitudes.
Clark also sat out the season-ending AFC wild-card playoff loss at Denver in January. He was held out of the last regular-season trip to Denver in 2009 and a preseason game in 2010.
Clark, 32, led the Steelers in tackles last season. He’ll be replaced in the lineup by Ryan Mundy.
In October 2007, Clark experienced paralyzing pain in his left side in a career-threatening and life-threatening attack that required the surgical removal of his spleen and gall bladder. Because he experienced oxygen deprivation to his major organs, Clark lost 30 pounds and missed the rest of the season but eventually was cleared to return to football.
He does not experience the symptoms, as is true of most sickle-cell trait carriers, in other game situations or when participating in football games or workouts at normal altitude.