Dont'a Hightower Reportedly Out for Season Due to Torn Pectoral Muscle Injury

The Boston Herald's Jeff Howe first reported on Wednesday that Hightower is dealing with a right shoulder injury. The Patriots were bracing for Hightower, the leader of the defense, to miss a significant stretch of time, but the torn pec is the worst-case scenario for a team with one of the worst defenses in the league and it comes at a time when the Patriots uncharacteristically are not running away with the NFC East.

Losing Hightower for the duration of 2017 is a huge hit to the Patriots defense.

The New England Patriots are coming off the best defensive performance of the season in Week 7, as they held the Atlanta Falcons to seven points and 343 total yards. "I mean, obviously, he's a guy who's been out there for a lot of years now, played multiple roles on the defense, different spots, communication, everything".

As for Hightower, his injury history limited his free agent market last offseason and he wound up back with the Patriots on a four-year, $35.5 million deal.

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Hightower was listed as a linebacker, but also played play on the defensive line, serving as a pass rusher. Though Hightower was a second-team All-Pro at linebacker in 2016, 71.4 percent of his snaps this season came as an edge defender, according to Pro Football Focus.

After watching Brown limp noticeably after Sunday's game and again earlier this week, and not spotting him at Thursday's walkthrough practice, it seems safe to say he's a long shot to play Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. Yet, the loss of Hightower will be another hurdle for the Patriots squad to jump over.

"I think for all of us, it's just being prepared and being ready to go", McCourty said.

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