With a primetime matchup against the Houston Texans on the docket for Sunday night, the New England Patriots are feeling under the weather. According to multiple reports, there has been an illness sweeping through the locker room, which resulted in nine players being listed as questionable. To prevent the illness from spreading, the Patriots reportedly quarantined the sick players on one flight to Texas while the rest of the team flew on another plane.
There was considerable concern about the overall health of the Patriots on Friday and Saturday as multiple players dealt with flu-like symptoms. However, only one, tight end Ryan Izzo, has been downgraded to out due to illness. The other nine are expected to play. This means that top cornerback, Stephon Gilmore will be available to face off with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins during this battle.
According to Mike Giardi of NFL Network, the separate flights to Houston did indeed take place. This was something entirely new for him, to the point that he can't remember it ever happening in NFL history.
The Patriots will also have top linebackers Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins, and Kyle Van Noy on the field after they all dealt with the illness. New England has one of the league's best defenses, but losing key starters would have severely limited this group against Deshaun Watson and the Texans offense.
That being said, there is still concern remaining about the Patriots offense. Tom Brady may not have two veteran receivers available in Mohamed Sanu (ankle) and Phillip Dorsett (concussion). Both players missed last Sunday's game and could be out of the lineup once again. Although they did make the trip to Houston and could potentially return to action.
The Patriots offense has been facing criticism in recent weeks after a string of games in which Brady and his playmakers didn't take control early. The 42-year-old quarterback explained that the offense is no longer the strength of this team. Instead, the defense and special teams are taking control each week. He and the offense now just have to take advantage when they can and keep the team in the game.
"The strength of our team is our defense and our special teams," Brady said, per Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston. So on offense, we've just got to take advantage of our opportunities and understand where our strengths lie and try to play to them."
Given that the Texans play indoors, it's possible that this struggling offense could experience a resurgence on Sunday night. Although Brady will need his teammates to remain upright and healthy during this battle.
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