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No timetable for Dont’a Hightower’s return, but he “feels great”

Marshawn Lynch, Dont’a Hightower, Rob Ninkovich


The Patriots should find out soon when they’ll have quarterback Tom Brady available in the regular season, but they know he’ll be available to practice when training camp opens in a couple of weeks.

There isn’t the same certainty about linebacker Dont’a Hightower’s availability. Hightower had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder in February and was sidelined throughout the team’s offseason workouts, OTAs and minicamp. During an appearance at UMass-Lowell on Monday, Hightower said there’s no timetable in place for his return to the field before letting everyone know he wishes he “could go out and start in a couple of weeks and bang around.”

“Honestly, I don’t have a target date,” Hightower said, via “I’ve seen doc, and everything is going great right now. I’m right on track, if not a little ahead of schedule. It’s something that’s going to take time. I can’t say ‘three weeks’ or whatever. It feels great. I’m doing good. Doc loved everything. He said I’m ahead of schedule, so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.”

Hightower excelled for the Patriots down the stretch last season and brought down Marshawn Lynch just short of the end zone in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl to set up Seattle’s ill-fated pass that was intercepted by Malcolm Butler. Once healthy, he should slide right back into the linebacking group alongside Jerod Mayo and Jamie Collins.