Los Angeles (AFP) – New England coach Bill Belichick is hoping the Patriots will be close to full strength for their trip to Houston on Sunday after illness sidelined eight from mid-week practice.

“We’ve had some guys miss,” Belichick told reporters on Friday. “So we’ll see how they are today and reevaluate it after today.

“Would have been hard if we had played yesterday, I’d say that,” the famously taciturn coach acknowledged.

Four of the ailing players returned to action on Thursday on a limited basis, and just two players missed the Pats’ final practice on Friday before their trip to Houston.

“It is what it is,” Belichick said. “We have players on the practice squad, we have players on our roster. So, if we need somebody to step in to a spot, then hopefully they’re ready to do it.”

Although Tom Brady was limited mid-week by a sore elbow injury, the superstar quarterback indicated Friday he hadn’t been affected by illness.

“I’m a pretty healthy guy,” he said. “You can’t avoid it all the time … but I try to keep my immune system nice and strong if possible.”

After intermittent coughing during his press conference prompted questions about his health, Belichick insisted he was fine, but he said the coaching staff had also been affected.

“I mean, look it’s kind of hit everybody a little bit,” he said. “We’ll start doing injury reports on coaching staff. That will be the next thing.”

One adjustment the Patriots know they’ll have to make as they seek to improve their 10-1 record, is the addition of their fourth kicker of the season, Kai Forbath. He’ll take over for Nick Folk, who underwent an appendectomy this week.

“We’ll do introductions so we can get to know everybody,” Belichick quipped.

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