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Patriots News: Dont'a Hightower Shows No Signs of Rust After 2020 Opt-Out

Adam Taylor McKillop
New England Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower is showing no signs of rust after his 2020 opt-out.
New England Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower is showing no signs of rust after his 2020 opt-out. / Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The last time linebacker Dont'a Hightower played for the New England Patriots was in the 2019 Wild Card matchup with the Tennessee Titans. Hightower didn't find himself in a new uniform last season like his former teammate, superstar quarterback Tom Brady.

Instead, Hightower (along with seven other New England players) opted out of the 2020 NFL season because of COVID-19 concerns. The season was pretty much a disaster for the Patriots, who finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Fans are surely excited to see Hightower back out on the field for the 2021 campaign, especially considering his Pro Bowl campaign in 2019. After not playing for more than a calendar year, you might expect some rust to show early on in training camp. But, according to head coach Bill Belichick, that's simply not a reality for their stud linebacker.

Dont'a Hightower Patriots News

“It’s good to have all the players that we have and yeah, it was good to see [Hightower],” Belichick said. “[Hightower's] worked right in very quickly. He’s obviously a smart player with a lot of experience and has a lot of leadership force on the team.

Bill Belichick

This is quite a welcome sign for the Patriots, who look to get back on top in the AFC East next season. Hightower's absence was missed as that left the Patriots without one of the captains of their defense who recorded 71 total tackles (47 solo), 13 QB hits, 8 tackles for loss and 4 passes defended in 2019.

Notably, the Patriots were also without safety Patrick Chung. Chung did go on to retire, but the return of a sharp Hightower will make a difference for the Patriots' defense that ranked middle of the pack with 353.8 yards allowed per game.

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Adam Taylor McKillop is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Adam Taylor also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username atmckillop. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.