FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots had eight players miss practice Wednesday due to flu-like symptoms, which safety Devin McCourty said were unlike anything he's seen in his 10 years with the team.
"We had guys come in, you'd look in their eyes and you could just tell they were out of it," he relayed following the team's initial practice leading into Sunday night's road game against the Houston Texans. "Hopefully a day at home, with meds and rest, [will] helps guys out."
Key starters Patrick Chung (safety), Jamie Collins Sr. (linebacker), Stephon Gilmore (cornerback), Dont'a Hightower (linebacker) and Isaiah Wynn (left tackle) were among the eight players who missed practice. A ninth player, offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, was limited in practice due to illness.
Cannon played through illness in Sunday's 13-9 rain-soaked, windy win over the Dallas Cowboys, an effort that coach Bill Belichick acknowledged after the game as one of the most impressive things he's seen.
Players said Wednesday that Belichick stressed to them the importance of doing whatever is possible to be healthy.
"As coach would say, we have to stay germ free," said longtime captain Matthew Slater. "It is the season."
Added linebacker Elandon Roberts, one of the team's captains: "And if you do feel a certain way, say something so you don't try to hold it in, try to fight through it, and get everyone else sick around you."
At one point when reporters were in the locker room Wednesday, one player was wearing a mask as a preventative measure.
"We obviously have the flu bug going around, but wash your hands and keep washing your hands and you'll be all right," safety Duron Harmon said.
Acknowledging there is always some uncertainty with illnesses, McCourty didn't seem overly concerned as to how it would affect the Patriots (10-1) against the Texans (7-4).
"We have a lot of tough guys, but we have to see how it goes throughout the week," he said.
Elsewhere on the injury front, receiver Phillip Dorsett II said he is out of the concussion protocol after missing Sunday's game.
"I'm just happy to be back," he said.