Patriots rule out Jason McCourty with groin injury, but most sick players are OK

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- After an illness swept through the New England Patriots' locker room this week, resulting in 10 players landing on the injury report due to flu-like symptoms, things seem to be trending in the right direction for the team heading into Sunday night's road game against the Houston Texans.

Backup tight end Ryan Izzo is the only player the club has officially ruled out because of illness, which means several key starters -- a group including cornerback Stephon Gilmore, left tackle Isaiah Wynn and linebackers Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy -- improved enough Saturday that they still have a chance to play. As the club departed for Houston on Saturday afternoon, the Patriots didn't downgrade any of the nine players who were listed as questionable due to illness.

While no one was downgraded, the team did make extra precautions to make sure the illness didn't spread. The Pats flew in two planes, with one designated to accommodate those who were sick and keep others away from them, a source told ESPN's Field Yates.

Though not battling an illness, the Patriots did rule out starting cornerback Jason McCourty (groin) for the second week in a row, which likely means second-year corner J.C. Jackson will start in his place. Backup defensive tackle Byron Cowart was also downgraded to out because of a head injury.

Elsewhere on the Patriots' injury front, Mohamed Sanu (ankle) and Phillip Dorsett (concussion) are making the trip to Houston after missing last Sunday's win. That means there is a chance for a fully active WR depth chart Sunday night.