Linebacker Dont'a Hightower‘s absence was a factor in the Patriots’ defensive struggles in 2020, so it was seen as good news in New England that Hightower would be back in action after opting out last year.
Hightower was in his customary place in the middle of the defense in Week One against the Dolphins, but he didn’t match the familiar spot with the kind of outing that’s made him a fixture of the team. Hightower was credited with four tackles in a 17-16 loss and said on Thursday that he feels things are still “coming along” after his extended absence from the lineup.
“Win or loss, I always look for room for improvement, and that’s obviously there. I pride myself on being, not the smartest guy, but definitely I want to push up my awareness as far as situational awareness goes,” Hightower said, via Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald. “But just all around, I just want to play better, obviously. It’s coming along, but obviously I want to play a lot better, be a little bit more impactful.”
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy has missed practice both days this week and his absence would make a return to old form for Hightower all the more important in their Week Two game against the Jets.