Pats LB Dont'a Hightower out for season with torn pec

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Dont'a Hightower is reportedly out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle.

Brown has been the team's top defensive tackle in terms of playing time (59 percent) and has been credited with 24 tackles and one sack.

The New England Patriots defense is clearly better with Hightower on the field. Losing Hightower for the season hardly helps.

Hightower was listed as a linebacker, but also played play on the defensive line, serving as a pass rusher. He returned in Week 4 and shifted back toward the middle of the defense in Week 5 when the Patriots kicked off a three-game winning streak in which they've allowed 12.7 points per game. Though Hightower was a second-team All-Pro at linebacker in 2016, 71.4 percent of his snaps this season came as an edge defender, according to Pro Football Focus.

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"With anybody on the team, it's like, man, you never want those things to happen", Roberts said.

But while the Patriots have a plan, that doesn't mean Hightower's absence won't be felt.

The Patriots signed David Harris after he was cut by the Jets in June, but the veteran linebacker has only been active for four of the first seven games this season.

"He's a huge part of what we do", safety Devin McCourty said. That might not be enough for Sunday's game, especially considering that Guy is managing a chest injury that has limited his participation in practice, and Branch's stamina to handle an increased workload is an unknown this year. "It's a tough loss for us defensively, but it's something we'll have to overcome". "It's not just one guy, it's not just Kyle Van Noy trying to fill Hightower's (position)".

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