NFL: Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady talks with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels before the start of the Cowboys game last Sunday.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — In a Patriots locker room that’s battling widespread illness recently and plenty of injuries during the season, quarterback Tom Brady said he’s managed to stay unaffected.

“I’m a pretty healthy guy. Can’t avoid it all the time. I try to for the most part. I keep my immune system nice and strong if possible,” he said Friday as the Patriots prepare for Sunday night’s game at Houston.

His immune system might be able to stop the flu, but it can’t hold off opposing defenders.

“I wouldn’t be in the self-preservation business if I was trying to be a football player,” said Brady, who is expected to play Sunday. “You’re going to get hit. You just have to understand that’s part of the game. You have to understand when they blitz, you don’t have as much time to throw. So you have to throw the ball a little quicker. ... Taking hits is part of it. My whole objective is standing there and trying to get the ball to someone who can do something with it.”

He said throwing the ball away is more about protecting a drive and protecting possession than protecting himself.

“I’m throwing it away because I don’t want to take a sack,” Brady said. “I think negative plays actually have a big impact on the game. Turnovers and negative plays I think really keep you from winning games. So, if you can drop-back pass, because I’m not really a scrambler ... But, if I’m going to hold it back there, then usually good things aren’t going to happen. So, I try to throw the ball away to save plays and live for the next down.”

Pats getting healthier

All that Vitamin C is finally paying off for the Patriots. After a flu bug ripped through their locker room — eight players missed Wednesday’s practice with illness — they were almost at full strength for Friday’s walkthrough.

Kyle Van Noy was a new absence, and Ryan Izzo has been out all week with the flu. One of the league’s best linebackers, Van Noy will be sorely missed if he isn’t good to go by Sunday.

Dont’a Hightower, Isaiah Wynn and JoeJuan Williams all returned. All three players were healthy enough for Friday’s walkthrough. The biggest takeaway from Friday: The Patriots seem to have weathered the worst of their flu bug.

Players listened to an assortment of college football fight songs on Friday. With rivalry games all weekend, the Patriots were listening to band songs. Tom Brady pumped his fist when Michigan’s “The Victors” began.