The New England Patriots returned to the practice fields without eight on Wednesday.
Starting linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins, who have 105 tackles, nine sacks, six turnovers and a pair of touchdowns between them this season, were sent home due to illness. As were defensive backs Stephon Gilmore, Joejuan Williams and Patrick Chung.
And that’d just be one side of the ball on a quarantined Thanksgiving eve.
Here’s the initial prognosis for Sunday’s 8:20 p.m. ET kickoff at NRG Stadium against the AFC South-leading Houston Texans.
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
- Patriots: TE Ryan Izzo (illness), OT Isaiah Wynn (illness), G Jermaine Elumunor (illness), LB Dont’a Hightower (illness), LB Jamie Collins (illness), CB Stephon Gilmore (illness), CB Joejuan Williams (illness), S Patrick Chung (illness/heel/chest)
- Texans: DT Carlos Watkins (hamstring)
Patriots right tackle Marcus Cannon played through an illness last weekend versus the Dallas Cowboys that left him questionable, missing from warm-ups and spelled out for the end of the first half. Head coach Bill Belichick praised the veteran bookend in his press conference afterward, calling it “one of the top efforts” he’d seen. Cannon would be seen again Wednesday. But joining the list of illness-related absences from New England’s defensive side would be Izzo, Wynn and Eluemunor from the offensive side. Wynn, drafted No. 23 overall an April ago, came off injured reserve to make his third career start last Sunday at left tackle.
Houston practiced with all but one member of the active roster on Wednesday. Watkins exited the defensive line last Thursday night against the Indianapolis Colts due to a hamstring injury.
- Patriots: WR Mohamed Sanu (ankle), WR Phillip Dorsett (concussion), Julian Edelman (shoulder), WR Matthew Slater (hamstring), OT Marcus Cannon (illness), DE John Simon (elbow), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (knee), CB Jason McCourty (groin), S Nate Ebner (ankle/back)
- Texans: WR Will Fuller (hamstring), OT Tytus Howard (ankle), DT Angelo Blackson (shoulder), LB Brennan Scarlett (shoulder), CB Gareon Conley (hip), CB Lonnie Johnson (ankle), CB Bradley Roby (hamstring)
McCourty surfaced on the injury report after New England’s final practice of Week 12. A groin injury sent the 32-year-old starting cornerback, listed as questionable, to the inactives for the 13-9 win over Dallas. But McCourty continued in a limited capacity to open this week. Also notably in that tier of participation on Wednesday were wide receivers Sanu and Dorsett. Both sat out the Cowboys matchup. A sprained ankle and a concussion, respectively, arrived the matchup prior against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Seven Texans were limited to begin on-field preparations, including Fuller, who worked back into the lineup with seven receptions for 140 yards last week. The wideout missed Houston’s previous three contests with a hamstring injury.
- Patriots: QB Tom Brady (elbow)
- Texans: S Mike Adams (concussion), S Justin Reid (concussion)
Brady landed on New England of the injury report with an injury to his throwing elbow last Friday. The quarterback has since gone from limited to full practice participation. Brady completed 17-of-37 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown versus Dallas at a waterlogged Gillette Stadium.
Two Texans safeties have also been upgraded to full participation. Both Adams and Reid cleared concussion protocol.