Thursday update: Hightower is officially questionable, along with 12 other Patriots, for the Wild Card round.
Wednesday update: Hightower remained limited in Wednesday’s practice. The linebacker has a knee injury, which the Patriots will tread cautiously with.
The New England Patriots listed star linebacker Dont’a Hightower as limited on Tuesday’s practice report, saying the player is dealing with a knee injury. Hightower is the key to this defense in the middle of the unit, and will be instrumental in New England’s wild-card game against the Buffalo Bills.
Many remember Hightower best for his shoestring tackle of Marshawn Lynch in the Super Bowl but the linebacker has been a steady presence for Bill Belichick’s defense for years. He’s one of the few players the coach hasn’t shipped out, mainly because there hasn’t been noticeable decline in play. Hightower racked up 64 tackles and 1.5 sacks after missing all of last season.
If Hightower cannot go or is on a snap count, look for the Patriots to deploy Ja’Whaun Bentley and Jahlani Tavai in the middle linebacker spot. Jamie Collins Sr. is also back with the team and has familiarity with the position, so he’s also an option if Hightower is limited.