New England Patriots’ front seven: top performers from Week 2

4 of 4

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

1. Dont’a Hightower

Nudging Collins for All-PFF First-Team honors last season was Hightower. By doing so, the analytics website essentially named Hightower the next-best inside linebacker in the NFL after Luke Kuechly. In Week 1, Hightower surely lived up to that billing.

As is usually the case, Hightower led the Patriots in tackles with 12. In addition, he contributed a half-sack and a quarterback hit. The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin also noticed this nice play by Hightower:

Remember that we’re talking about a guy who played through a bum shoulder in Super Bowl XLIX and helped make the all-important stop on Marshawn Lynch before the goal line. Hightower wears No. 54 as well as Tedy Bruschi did, and really, that’s all that we Patriots fans can ask out of the fourth-year pro.

Expect Hightower to continue the elite play and put himself into the conversation as the NFL’s best inside linebacker.

Next: Stock Watch: Offensive Line Shines