BOSTON (CBS) — In 2013 when Patriots captain and tackling machine Jerod Mayo went down for the season with a torn pectoral, second-year pro Dont’a Hightower wasn’t ready to fill the void.

One year later, with Mayo down once again, Hightower has been “night and day” according to 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Andy Gresh and Scott Zolak.

Gresh and Zo opened Monday’s show dissecting the Patriots-Broncos game, and at the end of the segment they couldn’t help but praise the emerging Hightower in his third year.

“I want to give it up for Dont’a Hightower. You watch Dont’a Hightower a year ago play this position and it’s night and day. It scared the hell out of me when Mayo went down because Hightower was finally starting to find his niche off the edge, where that’s the role you want him in — that leverage guy, that Von Miller-type of guy,” said Zo. “Then all of a sudden he has to kick inside. Things weren’t great that first week, but to see him make the checks and make the calls [was great].”

Gresh just had three words to say about Dont’a: “He’s been fantastic.”

The Patriots started the game with two linebackers, Hightower and Jamie Collins, who both finished the game playing 82 of 82 snaps. Both Gresh and Zo also came away from the game feeling positive about the performances of Akeem Ayers and Jonathan Casillas.

“If the defense continues to play like that, they can beat anybody any given Sunday,” stated Zo.

Listen below for Gresh & Zo’s full analysis!

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