Sep 16, 2012; Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back Ryan Williams (34) is tackled by New England Patriots outsidelinebacker Donta Hightower (54) during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

New England Patriots rule out Dont'a Hightower

Initially expected to be a game-time decision, the New England Patriots have ruled out starting strong-side linebacker Dont’a Hightower for today’s game against the Seattle Seahawks. With Tracy White also ruled out, the Pats might move Rob Ninkovich back to SLB. Either way, expect to see significant playing time from veteran LB Bobby Carpenter, who was signed last week when Hightower first sustained an injury against the Buffalo Bills.

Hightower has been one of the best rookies in the NFL thus far, and he was able to play against the Denver Broncos despite being listed questionable with a hamstring injury that was sustained in Week 4. Without him, it’s going to be tougher to stop electrifying Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.

Carpenter is a great coverage linebacker due to his speed, but there’s a reason why he is a former bust and a reason why he has had to transform into a niche role as a coverage LB in sub-packages for the Patriots. He can’t do anything against the run. That’s going to be a problem for the Patriots, and managing the strong-side of the front seven against Seattle is going to be a tricky task for Bill Belichick.

Steve Gregory will be out for the second straight week.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.

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Tags: Bobby Carpenter Dont'a Hightower New England Patriots

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