The Patriots linebacker should be faster next season.
New England Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower has battled injuries over the course of his career, culminating with his first season-ending injury in 2017. Hightower changed his training for the 2018 season and had his healthiest season yet, tying his 2013 season with 18 games played. He played 1,045 snaps throughout the entire season, trailing just 2013 (1,097) and 2014 (1,084) for the most of his career.
Hightower is hoping to build off his successes in 2018 and is looking even leaner as we head into 2019, according to a picture from Hightower’s recent workout with Patriots right guard Shaq Mason.
— jeremy holt (@jholt23) April 11, 2019
To put some context behind Hightower’s weight, he was 270 pounds in 2012 and 2013, before trimming some weight to get down to 265 pounds in 2014 and 260 pounds in 2015. He was named a Pro Bowler and Second Team All Pro in 2016 at 260 pounds, which was also his weight in college, but suffered a season-ending injury in 2017 that led him to change his workout plan.
“You hear a lot of guys just doing more treatment [after injuries], and that’s literally been my story,” Hightower said late in the 2018 season. “I haven’t been doing the heavy weights, the heavy squat stuff. I’ve been doing a lot more core, a lot more function movement stuff. I feel like that’s definitely helped me out. I’ve still kept my power, and I’ve stayed lean. I’ve stayed healthy for the most part, so I’m just going to continue to build on that.”
When former teammate Marquice Cole commented about Hightower’s lighter weight on the above image, Hightower responded that he’s currently weighing around 250-255 pounds.
So Hightower is approximately 20 pounds lighter than he was as a rookie and sophomore.
What does this mean for Hightower and the Patriots defense?
Kyle Van Noy’s development as a very good outside linebacker that is able to play on the line of scrimmage means that Hightower doesn’t need to carry the weight of a pseudo-defensive end. Van Noy has taken on Hightower’s old role on the edge, allowing Hightower focus on the middle of the field.
Of course Elandon Roberts, coming off an excellent 2018 campaign, and Ja’Whaun Bentley also play in the middle of the field, so Hightower will likely plug into whatever role he needs to for the defense. But Hightower is the starter and is at a good complementary weight to Van Noy.
I would expect Hightower to be faster and more, ahem, pliable in 2019 and think he’s setting himself up for the best year of his career.