BOSTON (CBS) — Friday night will be a relatively important game for the Patriots and every other team in the National Football League – at least, as important as a preseason game can get. The “dress rehearsal” game will be particularly key for Patriots linebacker David Harris, who has a great opportunity in front of him as the team’s primary linebacker.

As reported by ESPN’s Mike Reiss on Friday morning, Patriots defensive captain Dont’a Hightower did not make the trip to Detroit for Friday night’s Patriots-Lions game. Hightower just came off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and returned to Patriots practice earlier this week as he recovers from a knee injury.

Elandon Roberts and Shea McClellin also did not travel, which paves the way for Harris as the clear top option at linebacker for the Patriots.

Harris’ performance will be important not just for his own chances of landing a major role on the Patriots’ roster. It will also give a glimpse of whether the veteran linebacker can be the signal caller in the middle of the defense, which would enable Bill Belichick to line up Hightower on the edge as a pass rusher more often.

Reiss also reported on Friday that left tackle Nate Solder did not travel with the Patriots, once again making Cameron Fleming the likely starter at that spot to protect Tom Brady’s blind side. Among the notable names who did travel with the team is running back Mike Gillislee, who will likely make his preseason debut as the Patriots’ early-down back.


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