Starting right tackle Marcus Cannon was the first member of the New England Patriots to miss time because of an illness: he was a no-show for the final practice last week, and was subsequently limited during the game against the Dallas Cowboys. When the team returned to the practice fields a few days later, other players were absent as the illness started to spread through the locker room. At the end of the week, 10 players were ill.
While only tight end Ryan Izzo was eventually ruled out to participate in today’s game against the Houston Texans, nine other men were listed on the injury report as questionable heading into the weekend:
OT Isaiah Wynn, OT Marcus Cannon, OG Jermaine Eluemunor, LB Jamie Collins Sr., LB Dont’a Hightower, LB Kyle Van Noy, CB Stephon Gilmore, CB Joejuan Williams, SS Patrick Chung
In order to limit the illness from further spreading ahead of the game, the Patriots therefore took a creative approach: the team boarded two planes to fly to Houston, one filled by the healthy players and one by those rehabbing.
The Patriots, of course, bought a pair of Boing 767s two years ago to become the first NFL franchise with its own set of planes. Usually, they are just taking one on the road but given the special circumstances this week the team decided to use them both — probably a smart move not to risk any further contamination, especially considering that seven starting-caliber players are among those who were ill during the week.