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Perry: Hightower leaves no doubt about commitment to Patriots

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FOXBORO -- Several Patriots opt-outs from last year are no longer with the team. Patrick Chung retired. Dan Vitale retired. Marcus Cannon was traded to the Houston Texans.

But Dont'a Hightower made it clear Tuesday that he's committed to being around for 2021. He's been present for both days of his team's mandatory minicamp this week, and in the second practice of the three-day session he made the play of the day: a leaping interception of Mac Jones over the middle in an 11-on-11 period.

"It’s been good, man," Hightower said of being back in the mix. "I’ve obviously been working at home. Whether or not being here or whatever, but it feels good to be on the field but it’s more about being in the locker room, being around these guys. I was in the house for a whole year, man. 

"I love my wife, and I love my son, but I’m pretty sure that she was ready for me to get back out here too. Talking football into her ear and her head. I’m glad to be back, glad to be around all the guys. Just glad to be back in the facility."

Mayo: Pats look forward to having Hightower's football mind in 2021

Hightower turned 31 in March and is in the last year of his contract with the Patriots. His addition after opting out due to COVID concerns last year may be the most impactful in an offseason during which the Patriots set a record in terms of guaranteed money handed out to free agents.

 

His presence allows Bill Belichick's defense to be versatile in terms of how it deploys its front-seven, and he's the team's top play-caller and middle-of-the-field communicator. 

Asked if he was fully committed to the season, Hightower responded definitively. 

"I don’t know what y’all want me to say, man," he said. "I’m here. I’m working. I’m in minicamp, bro. I’m not here to write a story for you, dawg. I’m here to work, man. I’m here. I don’t know what else y’all want me to say.

"If I wasn’t here, then I think that would be something to talk about. But I’m here. Hopefully that knocks all those questions out."

Clear. Concise. And good news for the Patriots.