The Patriots have officially placed Dont’a Hightower on injured reserve, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). This was the expected move after the linebacker suffered a torn pectoral muscle in October, though there was some hope that he could return to action after resting for a period of time.
League rules dictate that players who are placed on IR must be out of action for at least eight weeks. With only eight games to go, his season is now officially over.
Without Hightower, the Patriots have been using veteran David Harris as the starting middle linebacker with Elandon Roberts and Kyle Van Noy on the strong side and weak side, respectively. They’ve fortified the front seven by signing outside linebacker Trevor Reilly in October and adding defensive end Ricky Jean-Francois earlier today, but Hightower’s production and leadership cannot be easily replaced.
Hightower’s season ends with five appearances, two sacks, and 14 total tackles.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.