Among the problems the Patriots defense has had to deal with this season was the absence of linebacker Dont'a Hightower for two games with a knee injury, but his return against the Panthers last Sunday didn’t mean all was well.
Hightower had a sack while playing just over half the defensive snaps, but the Patriots defense continued to struggle in a 33-30 loss. Hightower said fixing things will take increased accountability because “we have to hold each other to a higher standard” than has been the case during the first four games of the year.
Hightower said that starts with honing in on the small details and building from there.
“That’s where it starts,” Hightower said, via the Boston Herald. “The small things matter. The big plays and all that stuff obviously it’s easy for guys to see that, but it’s the small things that happen. … All the little things matter right now and I think what we need to do and what we’re going to start doing is going at it at that. Don’t take things for granted, you know? Appreciate every little thing and be knowledgeable of each small detail. I think we’ll start from there and see where it goes.”
Hightower said the Patriots can “absolutely” get things back on track defensively and he’s been around long enough to know that September problems can be fixed in time for the team to make a playoff run in January. That will be both the hope and the necessity on defense in New England this year.