FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick doesn’t typically meet with the media on Thursdays, so his first opportunity to address linebacker Dont’a Hightower’s season-ending injury came Friday morning during one of his weekly news conferences.
Hightower reportedly underwent surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle Thursday. His teammates confirmed he’s out for the season.
“Obviously we’re all disappointed for High,” Belichick said. “One of the leaders on our defense and one of our captains, he gives us a lot. It’s unfortunate, but it will give someone else opportunities. We’ll see how that goes.”
The consensus among Patriots players Thursday was that no one player can fill Hightower’s shoes on the Patriots’ defense. It seems Belichick agrees with that notion.
“It will create opportunities for other players,” Belichick said. “We’ll see how it goes.”
Belichick dismissed the notion that because the Patriots played two games without Hightower earlier in the season that they’re better prepared to lose him for the rest of the year.
“We haven’t played the (Los Angeles) Chargers,” Belichick said. “So, each week’s a different challenge. This is a good football team. They bring a lot of problems. They’ve got a lot of good players. We’ll have to deal with the Chargers’ problems. I don’t really care about someone else. What difference does it make?”
Belichick wouldn’t confirm the Patriots would move Hightower to injured reserve Friday. The Patriots might choose to wait to put Hightower on injured reserve until next week when the corresponding move would be to activate fellow linebacker Shea McClellin off of injured reserve. McClellin is not permitted to be activated until after Week 8.
Belichick, who was not in his typically talkative Friday mood, also wasn’t interested in dissecting whether Hightower’s injury would force the team to make a trade by Tuesday’s deadline.
“We’ll do what we think is best for the football team, like we always do,” Belichick said.
The Patriots have depth at inside linebacker with Elandon Roberts and David Harris able to step up in Hightower’s absence. Hightower also plays as a pass rusher on third down, when Cassius Marsh, Adam Butler, Kyle Van Noy and Geneo Grissom could receive more opportunities.
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