FOXBORO -- How will the Patriots cope with Dont'a Hightower out? It will be a group effort.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined 98.5 The Sports Hub on Sunday and said that Jonathan Freeny would take the primary fill-in for Hightower, who is dealing with a knee injury he suffered against the Cardinals last week, but there will be others who could see more playing time as well.
"If Dont'a can't play, then Freeny would take his spot, but I would also expect to play Elandon Roberts and [Barkevious] Mingo with some kind of a rotation in there. We'll just have to see how all that plays out."
Roberts, who was inactive last week, said this week that he's been doing all he can to pick up the Patriots defense. He credited his veteran teammates on that side of the ball, particularly those in the linebacker room, for helping him make strides since he arrived as a sixth-round draft pick out of the University of Houston.
Belichick also said that the number of linebackers the Patriots use could change depending on the packages the Dolphins offense deploys. New head coach Adam Gase has proven that he will use both "11 personnel" -- one back and one tight end -- or "12 personnel" depending on the situation. If it is more of a "12 personnel" game, Belichick hinted that the Patriots could then turn to their base package, which would mean they would turn to a three-linebacker package, as opposed to the two-linebacker look they use in their nickel packages.
Belichick touched on a variety of subjects during the interview with Scott Zolak, including how the Dolphins defensive front has the ability to draw a lot of holding penalties, and how Gase may be willing to go up-tempo as he did when he was in Denver in 2014 and in Chicago in 2015.