By James Young
Patriots starting linebacker Dont’a Hightower is reportedly out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Hightower had previously missed weeks two and three earlier this year with an MCL injury.
Sports Illustrated reported that entering week seven, the Patriots had the 32nd ranked defense (last) in the league. Although the Patriots have been without Hightower plenty of times before, their defense hasn’t been this poor in the past. Since Hightower’s entrance in the league in 2012, Pro Football Focus shows that the Patriots haven’t fallen below 25th in defense, 13th since 2015.
When Hightower got his first Pro Bowl selection last year, the Patriots also had the first ranked defense in points allowed and the 8th ranked in yards allowed.
Hightower is one of the team’s seven captains. He is a key defensive player for the Patriots: according to NFL.com, after Hightower came back in week four, the Patriots defense improved in every major category.
Bleacher Report wrote that so far he has 14 tackles and 2.0 sacks in five games this season.
His injury puts pressure on the rest of New England’s defense, especially the team’s linebacker core.
Senior football player Aidan Harding said, “I think his loss will be felt. But I do think Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia will figure it out. Kyle Van Noy could step into the role.”
Geoff Wilson, also a senior football player, added, “When someone goes down they usually find someone to replace him. They are good at finding people to fit the system.”
ESPN NFL writers believe that the injury is going to affect the Patriots’ Super Bowl chances. Matt Bowen said it would be effected at first, but he added, “it’s also another opportunity for the Patriots to thrive in an adverse situation.”
Fans and experts both think that the Patriots will be affected by his absence, people disagree on just how much. The Patriots’ fan base hopes that the team will be able to adjust quickly and improve the so far lackluster defense.
The team gets a bye after they play the Chargers, meaning they do not have to play a game during week eight. It is just in time to get plenty of practice and make adjustments before the second half of their season begins.