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Mayo injury makes Hightower the QB of Patriots defense


The Patriots lost more than their leading tackler when linebacker Jerod Mayo was placed on injured reserve this week, they lost their play-caller.

Now, in the absence of the guy who wore the defensive headset radio in his helmet, the Patriots are passing the torch to second-year linebacker Dont’a Hightower.

Hightower walked in the door more settled than the average rookie based on his experience at Alabama, but he’s still spending this week with defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and linebackers coach Pepper Johnson to be ready for the increased responsibility.

I’m looking forward to it,” Hightower said, via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. “I’ve talked to Matty. I’ve talked to Pepper about it. It’s definitely something that I knew down the road, if something ever happened, I knew that I would have to step up and do it.

“I’m not nervous about it. It’s something that I’ve done before, maybe not in the NFL, but I’ve done it before. I know everybody is behind me and they support me, so that’s all I can ask for.”

The change will require Hightower to become more of an every down linebacker (after he played just 23 of 65 defensive snaps last week against the Saints), but there’s a confidence that he’s ready to be the quarterback of the defense.

“Not so much as a heavier presence as me making sure to try to fill Mayo’s shoes, because that’s something I’m not going to be able to do,” Hightower said of his role. “I can’t be Mayo. I’m Hightower. I can only do my job in ways that I feel that I should.

“I’m not going to have to go out on the boat and do something I’ve never done before. I’ve just got to keep the front-seven guys together, and hopefully those guys get my back in the back end.”

Losing Mayo and Vince Wilfork blew a huge hole in the middle of the Patriots defense, and that puts a heavy burden on Hightower to make sure they’re aligned properly and on the same page when they take the field.

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17 Responses to “Mayo injury makes Hightower the QB of Patriots defense”
  1. logicalvoicesays says: Oct 17, 2013 11:01 AM

    Cheaters can’t escape karma. #ZeroSuperbowlssinceSpygate

  2. jnbnet says: Oct 17, 2013 11:07 AM

    You can do it!

  3. scaredhitless says: Oct 17, 2013 11:10 AM

    No worries. The refs are on their side. They can be down 2 pro bowl players and still have a major advantage on defense.

  4. ampats says: Oct 17, 2013 11:15 AM

    Jerod Mayo is a huge loss that cannot be replaced but Hightower has been wearing the helmet with the green dot since pre season along with Mayo. I am looking forward to seeing more of Jamie Collins on the field as the Patriots have been hit particularly hard this season by injuries(not to mention an arrest) but it is part of the game. The Patriots will adjust and win the division again.

  5. cunninghampeetemcnabbvick says: Oct 17, 2013 11:32 AM

    Mayo makes tomatoes the QB of my sandwich.

  6. wolfmanpatriot says: Oct 17, 2013 11:38 AM

    The way the Boston paper described the shuffle of defensive players, change of formations, schemes, along with knowing how BB has made such adjustments in the past, I’ve a feeling the Pats D will continue to crush offenses.

    What I am wondering is if we will see Slater and Vareen back soon.

  7. 6ball says: Oct 17, 2013 11:39 AM


    While this is a bad break for Mayo, it affords Hightower the opportunity to prove his worth on the big stage. For better or worse, in a few months we’ll all have an opinion about him.


  8. dsimp724 says: Oct 17, 2013 11:44 AM

    That picture doesn’t exude confidence

  9. stoopidfool says: Oct 17, 2013 12:01 PM

    ‘cept that mayo doesn’t play in the middle…but yeah, the sky is falling so much that dopey picked the jets over the pats this week

  10. dalcow4 says: Oct 17, 2013 12:06 PM

    Huge loss. The defense has been bailing out the mediocre (for the Pats) offense and Mayo is the key to the whole thing. They will win the division, but they won’t do jack in the playoffs. Season over.

  11. patsbrat says: Oct 17, 2013 12:18 PM

    I remember seeing a video of a Pats practice where Belichick had Adalius Thomas calling defensive signals at a goal line situation. Thomas would make a call and Belichick kept repeating “Call another…call another…call another.” Thomas had to make about 5 different calls in 5 seconds.

    Belichick will have them ready.

  12. patsfansknowitall says: Oct 17, 2013 12:23 PM


  13. beaumustang says: Oct 17, 2013 12:31 PM

    I remember video clip, it’s often used in nfl network soundtrack show.

  14. lengai says: Oct 17, 2013 1:32 PM

    Patriots will make the playoffs and be eliminated. On to 2014.

  15. ampats says: Oct 17, 2013 1:35 PM

    dalcow4 says,

    They will win the division, but won’t do jack in the playoffs. Season over.

    Being a fan of the Cowboys, for the past 20 years he speaks from experience.

  16. effjohntaylornorelation says: Oct 17, 2013 3:25 PM

    About as pretty as Hoopi Goldberg

  17. matterson20 says: Oct 17, 2013 6:27 PM

    Your concern is noted.

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