Hightower: 'We gotta hold each other to a higher standard...that starts today'


Hightower: 'We gotta hold each other to a higher standard...that starts today'

FOXBORO -- It wasn't enjoyable. There weren't a lot of laughs. But it was productive, players said.

On Monday at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots dissected the film of their 33-30 loss to the Panthers and went over the corrections they'll need to make before seeing the Buccaneers on Thursday night.

While the big-play mistakes were part of the focus, Dont'a Hightower explained that there were plenty of smaller miscues that need to be cleaned up that might help limit back-breaking snaps down the line.

"That’s where it starts," he said. "The small things matter. The big plays and all that stuff, obviously, it’s easy for guys to see that. But it’s the small things that happen -- getting that little bit extra pressure on the quarterback, that extra knock back on the line of scrimmage, that extra knock back on the center or the quick jam at the line of scrimmage. 

"All the little things matter right now and I think what we need to do and what we’re going to start doing is going at that. Don’t take things for granted, you know? Appreciate every little thing and be knowledgable of each small detail. I think we’ll start from there and see where it goes."

Hightower played in 37 of 63 defensive snaps, most of them on the edge, and he recorded a fourth-quarter sack that gave the Patriots an opportunity to make their game-tying drive in the waning minutes. Though he felt as though he played a game the day prior, it was a performance for him to build on moving forward. 

Now it's just a matter of helping the defense get things cleaned up. Whether he's on the edge or in the middle of the defense, he considers himself a communicator who will speak up when necessary regardless of the situation.

"It’s just accountability," Hightower said. "That’s something that I myself as well as the other 10 guys, 11, 12 guys, whoever's out there, it's on them to do. It's on all of us. We gotta hold each other to a higher standard . . . That starts today. We had a so far productive meeting. We’re about to handle a couple more things. We know where we have to be at and what we gotta do.

"The time's now. There's no more next week or any other [expletive]. We gotta get going.” 

Asked if the Patriots defense will turn things around, Hightower said, "Absolutely." They have one more full day of work ahead of them to get going in the right direction before taking off for Tampa Bay on Wednesday.


Report: Patriots special teams ace Slater visiting Steelers

Report: Patriots special teams ace Slater visiting Steelers

Patriots seven-time Pro Bowl special teamer Matthew Slater is in Pittsburgh on Saturday making a free-agent visit to the rival Steelers, according to an ESPN's Field Yates.

Slater, who turns 33 in September, has spent the past 10 seasons in a New England. The special teams captain and one of the leaders in the locker room signed a one-year, $1.8 million contract extension in 2016.

The Patriots lost special teamer Johnson Bademosi to the Texans in free agency on Friday but signed special teamers Brandon Bolden and Brandon King just before the free agency period began.

More to come...

Brady tests his 'Brady Bunch' knowledge on NPR

Brady tests his 'Brady Bunch' knowledge on NPR

Tom Brady has been making the media rounds lately with "Good Morning America" and "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" appearances this past week to promote his "Tom vs. Time" series and TB12 Method book. On Saturday, Brady was a phone-in guest on NPR's "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me" for their "Not My Job" segment. 

Before a mostly cheering live audience in Hartford and after a discussion of the benefits and drawbacks - mostly drawbacks - of tomatoes and strawberries, plus an assessment of the intelligence of most defensive coordinators, Brady settled in to handle three questions about the world's second-most famous Bradys, the family from the classic sitcom - "The Brady Bunch".

Click here to listen and see how he did.