Patriots

BSJ Daily Briefing 10.26.17: Hightower is out for season

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(Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports)

(Sort of) Good morning.

Well, I was going to wax poetic about World Series Game 2 (which was epic and you really need to watch the highlights) and talk about the local teams having a double dip tonight, but breaking news dictates otherwise.

Dont'a Hightower, BSJ can confirm, will miss the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Dr. Jessica Flynn hinted this could be an outcome in an earlier post.

My quick thoughts on this (Chris Price will be back later with a more comprehensive reaction):

  • There is no replacement out there for a healthy Dont'a Hightower. You can toss out all the names you want, talk about all the trade possibilities you want, but there is no one out there that's going to come close to replacing him.
  • That means the Patriots will do what they always do: they will, based on gameplan and what they have at their disposal, mix and match players each week to execute the scheme against that particular opponent.
  • Kyle Van Noy definitely takes on a larger role, but David Harris (especially), Shea McClellin (who is getting closer to a return) and Elandon Roberts will all be part of that mix.
  • If you haven't checked it out yet, I have a play in my Falcons Breakdown where I highlight a hidden huge play Hightower made. The Patriots don't have another player who can make that play. Maybe McClellin, but that's it.
  • It's possible they make a trade, but it's more likely for a McClellin or Van Noy type than some sort of big name or full-time starter.
  • I have no idea why people are mentioning Rob Ninkovich's name. Sure, there's some versatility there, but Ninkovich is an edge player. He's not a replacement for Hightower. He would help on the edge, which maybe could help the situation on the inside (where Hightower has been his most impactful this season) tangentially, but it's not a one-for-one swap. Ninkovich riding in on a horse to save the day is not going to happen if he does return.
  • Not for nothing, but Ninkovich does not look close to game-ready, although I do know one Patriots assistant who has been pining for his return.

A few reminders:

  • Every Friday, Dr. Jessica Flynn will answer your injury questions about all four teams, or any other injury questions you have. You can submit those questions at any time via email (docflynn@bostonsportsjournal.com), or you can Tweet them to her here.
  • Mr. PatsCap himself, Miguel Benzan, will also be doing a weekly mailbag with all your funky cap-related inquiries. Hit him up via email or Twitter.
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And away we go...

CATCHING UP

Patriots

My breakdown of the Falcons' game. Defense was a joy to watch.
Patriots had their usual workouts for possible additions.
Video: Tom Brady on building chemistry.
Video: Brady on red-zone issues.
LB Trevor Reilly promoted to the roster.
Injured OT Andrew Jelks is helping the salary cap with each passing week.

Bruins

Analysis: Replacing David Krejci just another challenge for Bruins coaches.
Video: Tuukka Rask discusses his return from a concussion.

Red Sox

Dustin Pedroia opts for knee surgery and will be out a while.

Celtics

B-Robb Q&A.

ON TAP

10:30 a.m.: Bruins pregame skate, Warrior Ice Arena (McDonald)
3:15 p.m.: Patriots locker room availability (Price).
5 p.m.: Live Q&A: Joey Mac on Bruins.
7 p.m.: Sharks at Bruins, NESN (McDonald)
8 p.m.: Celtics at Bucks, TNT (Robb)
8:25 p.m.: Dolphins at Ravens, (CBS, NFLN, Amazon)

PARTING THOUGHT

Two Super Bowls. Two titles not won without huge Dont'a Hightower plays.

Super Bowl 49.

https://twitter.com/D_Moyn/status/923529174693892101

Super Bowl 51