Patriots LB may be out more than one game, report says

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

Hightower has dealt with injuries over the course of his career as he's only played in all 16 regular season games once, in 2013.

NFL Network's Ian Rappaport tweeted the news that Hightower is expected to miss the rest of the year. The loss is a huge blow to the Patriots defense, who already ranked 31st in defensive DVOA. 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.

The loss of Hightower is a massive one for a Patriots defense that is allowing the 11th-most points per game (23.7) in the National Football League through seven weeks.

In his projected absence, the Patriots are left with Lawrence Guy and Alan Branch at their big-bodied defensive tackle spot. Hightower was one of the top free agents of the summer, but New England managed to lure him back home with a four-year, $35.5 million contract.

Harris, Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, Marquis Flowers and Trevor Reilly all are part of that group, and Shea McClellin will rejoin it once he is removed from injured reserve, which could be as soon as next week. The Tennessee native also missed the second and third weeks of the season, watching as New England surrendered 20 and 33 points in those games.

Still, the Patriots don't seem particularly anxious.

"When we have a plan like that with new guys, we have to get them all on the same page", he said on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday.

Defensive tackle Adam Butler will likely slide in for Brown on Sunday versus the Los Angeles Chargers.

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