Hightower says he's good to go for Week 1 after missing preseason


Hightower says he's good to go for Week 1 after missing preseason

FOXBORO -- Dont'a Hightower didn't see any game action this preseason, but he says he's ready to hit the ground running against the Chiefs. 

"That's the gameplan, man," he said Monday. "But it's been a long offseason and I've been working, and hopefully this progress will take me into Thursday and we'll see from there."


Hightower's offseason began with free agency and a flirtation with both the Jets and the Steelers. He ended up back in New England on a four-year deal, and while he was in town for spring workouts, he did not participate in on-the-field work. When training camp began, Hightower remained out. He was on the physically unable to perform list until Aug. 22. 

For someone like Hightower, who has been in the same defense for five full seasons and serves as a mentor to linebackers like Kyle Van Noy and David Harris whenever they have questions, missing practice time may not seem like a real impediment to his readiness for the season. But he admitted that missing time has its consequences for everyone -- even someone who has been the signal-caller for the defense for multiple seasons. 

"You might hear that vets want to show up the last two or three weeks," Hightower said, "but in all reality each day that you miss, you're losing a day on your craft. With the young guys learning as much as they are nowadays, you're not trying to let anybody get a step over you. I did miss out on that time, but I was working."

Where he's been working has been one of the intriguing storylines to follow this summer. Because reporters never watched him practice fully, it's unclear if he's been working as a traditional off-the-ball linebacker or as more of an edge defender. During warmups for practices, he's often seen participating with defensive linemen. 

Is that an indication he'll be used more by Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia as an end-of-the-line defender? With Harris in the mix, will that free up Hightower to do more on the edge? He wouldn't say. But he did give a nod to the fact that he'll continue to be used in a variety of ways, as he has been since arriving to the team as a first-round rookie in 2012. 

"That's something that a lot of guys take a lot of pride in is vers. Obviously rushing inside and outside -- on an end, the tackle, the nose -- is different but we have a lot of guys who can do that . . . It's kind of hard to say [where rushes will come from]. Bill and Matty P., they draw up a little bit of everything. As long as I'm out there, that's all I'm worried about."

For the first time in a long time, on Thursday, he will be out there. 

Brady to mom Galynn in middle of 2016 season: 'You'll be ready for the Super Bowl'


Brady to mom Galynn in middle of 2016 season: 'You'll be ready for the Super Bowl'

She hadn't been able to get to a game all season, but Tom Brady had a feeling that his mom would be well enough to make it to the last one. 

"He said, 'You'll be ready for the Super Bowl,' " Tom Brady Sr. told NFL Network's Andrea Kremer. "He told us that in the middle of the season. At the end of her five months was going to be two weeks before the Super Bowl."


Brady's mom, Galynn, was diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer of 2016 and was undergoing chemotherapy throughout that season. As she focused on her treatments (which were scheduled for Thursday mornings), Galynn and Tom Sr. spent Sundays watching their son's games from afar. 

"Everything centered around 10 o'clock on Thursday morning," Tom Sr. said, "and then 10 o'clock on Sunday morning when we focused on the football games."

The Patriots continued to win, and the end of their season continued to be pushed back, making it possible for Galynn and Tom Sr. to attend their son's seventh Super Bowl. She was cleared for travel by her doctors on the day before the family's scheduled trip to Houston.

"I just wanted to be there for Tommy, and I wanted to be there with my family," she said. "Everybody was going to the Super Bowl, and I didn't want to miss that."

Kremer's piece aired Sunday on NFL Network's NFL GameDay Morning, as the league and the American Cancer Society work together this month on their Crucial Catch campaign. It's online now at