Game Ball: Which New England Patriots Player is Awarded the Game Ball This Week?

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Honorable Mention#3: Dont’a Hightower

Dont’a Hightower comes under a lot of criticism on the local talk radio airwaves in New England. A first-round draft pick in 2012, the local media and fan base has high expectations of the Alabama alumnus. Hightower came on strong last season after stepping in the primary three-down linebacker role with defensive captain and play-caller Jerod Mayo out for much of the season with a torn pectoral muscle injury. In week one he relished his role rushing Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill compiling four quarterback hits and a hurry.

That was just a warm-up as Hightower added two sacks and a quarterback hurry this week against Minnesota quarterback Matt Cassel. Sticking his nose in the running game he smashed the gaps and was strong in coverage when called on. In fact, four of his five tackles came in pass coverage.  In pass coverage, Hightower allowed six receptions on eight targets, but most were very short gains (other than chasing Cordarrelle Patterson in zone coverage).