BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots were already awaiting word on Trent Brown’s calf injury, which the starting right tackle suffered in the team’s Week 1 loss to the Dolphins on Sunday. You can add another injury concern to the mix.
Patriots linebacker and team captain Dont’a Hightower was seen limping off the field late in the fourth quarter, and the veteran did not return. Hightower was shaken up on a run play by Malcolm Brown as the Dolphins killed the clock at the end of their 17-16 win in Foxboro.
As you can see in a video tweeted out by MassLive’s Chris Mason, Hightower hopped around and then avoided putting pressure on his left leg after trying to get into the giant pile of bodies that collected around Brown.
Dont'a Hightower came up limping late in the 4th quarter and didn't return to the game.
That's not what you're looking for. pic.twitter.com/6pmqIwWYZp
— Chris Mason (@ByChrisMason) September 13, 2021
Losing Hightower would not be ideal for the Patriots, since he’s the heartbeat in the middle of the defense. He missed all of last season after opting out because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and New England’s run defense was the worst it had been in years. The Patriots added a little more depth to linebacker in the offseason by bringing Kyle Van Noy back and signing Matt Judon to a big contract, but Hightower is the leader of the pack, along with veteran safety Devin McCourty.
There were only six other plays in the game after Hightower left, and three of them were kneel downs by Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. So maybe Hightower’s absence during that stretch was just extreme caution from a Patriots team that kinda knew they weren’t going to win the game. There was no talk of an injury to the linebacker after the loss — though there never is any injury talk regarding any player after any Patriots game.
But Hightower’s potential ailment, along with Brown’s calf, are two injuries everyone will be monitoring leading up to New England’s Week 2 tilt with the New York Jets.