Patriots Lose Dont'a Hightower for the Season

The New England Patriots have lost one of their best defenders for the season.

The Patriots rank last in the National Football League according to several traditional defensive metrics, including total yards surrendered and yards surrendered per play. They were allowing 32 points per game through Week 4.

As unsightly as those numbers are, the worst may still be on the horizon.

Former Alabama LB Dont'a Hightower, the man in the middle of New England's defense, will be sidelined for the remainder of the season with a torn pectoral muscle.

In his projected absence, the Patriots are left with Lawrence Guy and Alan Branch at their big-bodied defensive tackle spot.

The Patriots' last two Super Bowl victories featured two huge plays from Hightower, who had a strip sack of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan last season after a key tackle of Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch near the goal line in 2015. He remained down for a moment after the play but managed to play the next snap before exiting the game.

If Hightower is dealing with a similar injury - and that detail was not disclosed to the Herald - the two-year captain could return to the field quicker than most, at least based on his history.

If the Patriots don't promote Blackson, they leave themselves open to the risk that another team could sign him to their active roster.

New England signed Hightower to a four-year, $35 million deal on March 15, though his lower 2017 base salary ($1,250,000) and higher per-game earnings reflected the team's concern. Kyle Van Noy will be asked to step up into Hightower's role, and hopefully, Shea McClellin will be back soon as well.

The Patriots promoted linebacker Trevor Reilly from the practice squad today.

  • Stacy Allen