Dont’a Hightower remains on the physically unable to perform list nearly three weeks into training camp, but the New England Patriots All-Pro linebacker is progressing.
That news surprisingly comes courtesy of Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who rarely gives injury updates. Belichick was asked if Hightower could contribute right away when he comes off the PUP list, since he’s been on the team for five seasons.
“Every year is a new year for all of us, so we all have to go through the process of getting our performance level up to the highest we can in this particular season,” Belichick told reporters at joint practices with the Houston Texans in West Virginia. “We all face that challenge — every player, every coach. A lot of guys are in different situations and different circumstances. We all have to go through the same process, whatever those circumstances are. Dont’a’s working hard. He’s doing what he can do.
“When he’s ready to do more, which he has already this year, then he’ll do more and move ahead when he’s ready. We’ll just have to see what that time frame brings.”
The fact Hightower, who battled knee and shoulder injuries last season, already has been able to “do more” certainly is a positive sign. Hightower was present for all Patriots training camp practices at Gillette Stadium, but he’s worn sweats and worked on a lower side field with other injured players away from healthy teammates. Hightower and the rest of the injured players mostly work on conditioning on the lower field, but they still are able to attend meetings and work on the mental aspect of football.
Undrafted rookie linebacker Harvey Langi has received first-team defensive reps in Hightower’s absence. Linebackers Kyle Van Noy and David Harris also have seen top practice reps.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
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