Dont'a Hightower: 'It means a lot' to stay injury-free this season

Ryan Hannable
January 15, 2019 - 5:05 pm

FOXBORO -- Prior to this year, Dont'a Hightower hadn't played more than 12 games in a season since 2013, but by in large to a new offseason training regimen, the linebacker was able to play in 15 of 16 games. 

The only game he missed was Week 11 in Buffalo due to a shoulder injury.

"That means a lot," Hightower said Tuesday. "Like you said, my time on the field hasn’t always been as much as I wanted it to be, but this year it’s meant a lot to me. I’ve been out there, I’ve been able to play, I’ve been able to be with my teammates from OTAs to minicamp, so I’ve enjoyed it. Looking forward to keeping this thing going, so just whatever I can this week to keep that thing going."

Hightower finished the year with 48 tackles, six quarterback hits and a sack. While he didn't light up the stat sheet, his presence was invaluable to the defense. The veteran is one of the smartest players on the field and uses it to his advantage when helping the unit line up properly.

That will come into play this week when going up against the powerful Kansas City offense and defending players like Tyreek Hill, Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce.

"A lot, especially when those players, Tyreek Hill or Chris Conley or Kelce, those are big players who can change a coverage or change a front or something," he said. "So, communication is going to be big. That’s something that we’ve done well the last couple of weeks, so hopefully we’ll continue to build on that. That’s something that we take pride in as far as trying to be a smart defense is communication, and without communication, that can be the downfall of a play, so we try to stay on top of that this week."

The Patriots and Chiefs will meet Sunday night in the AFC title game.

Related: Bill Belichick credits Patriots training staff for good team health this season