According to the Boston Herald, it appears that Hightower may be sidelined until at least the start of the 2015 season. (USA TODAY Images)
The Patriots have been fortunate they’ve been able to deal with the loss of Jerod Mayo to season-ending injuries over the past two seasons, but heading into 2015 it sounds like they’re potentially going to be in a bit of a bind through the early going.
According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, linebacker Dont’a Hightower’s offseason shoulder surgery could potentially cause him to miss training camp, with a 6-7 month timetable for recovery possibly keeping him out until at least the start of the regular season.
Hightower, who underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum after the team’s Super Bowl win, had a big year all around and ended up being one of the Patriots biggest playmakers in his expanded role. He finished second on the team behind Rob Ninkovich with 13 quarterback hits (Ninkovich had 16), tied for second on the team with Chandler Jones for sacks with 6 (Ninkovich had 8) and second behind Ninkovich in tackles for a loss with 9 (Nink had 11).
Another thing worth mentioning is the fact that as Howe points out, the Patriots are in a situation where they’re going to have to figure out how to handle Mayo’s high cap hit of $10.287, which would seemingly involve him to have to restructure his deal. Obviously New England was able to win a Super Bowl in his absence, but there’s no denying the value Mayo brings to this defense. Given that there’s always a possibility of a setback in Hightower’s rehabilitation, keeping Mayo in the mix would re-solidify an already formidable group that included Hightower and Jamie Collins, both of whom had terrific seasons in 2014.
Mayo also has a high cap number for 2016 and 2017, so it would make sense for the two sides to rework the deal. Another player who could fall into that category is Vince Wilfork, who may also see his deal potentially redone. But both veterans are important parts of the defense and two that would allow the Patriots to continue making even more dangerous heading into next season, especially if they can keep Darrelle Revis in the fold for the long-term.
At the end of the day Hightower performed beyond expectations after being thrust into his new role, and earlier this month credited his teammates for helping him through it.
“I was trying to do a little bit more than I was comfortable doing,” Hightower said via the Montgomery Advertiser. “I’m not a big vocal leader. I think that was the biggest thing. Not understanding how to operate things. … I have really good players around me to help me out a lot. … I needed that push on me.”
At 24 he’s already a Super Bowl Champion. It’s a tough injury to come back from and his recovery, as well as Mayo’s contract situation, will be two key stories to watch in the months ahead.
Even after winning it all, Brady can’t wait to get back to work.
(USA TODAY Images)
BRADY EXCITED FOR 2015
The 2014 season was one of the more interesting ones in terms of seeing the dynamic of how people would react if this team was ever no longer a championship contender, with the even more surprising thing being how fans would treat Tom Brady if the going got tough.
The answer? There were fans and even media who had no issue pulling the trigger and calling for the Jimmy Garoppolo era to begin at the first signs of adversity. Looking back it’s now pretty ironic considering how this group was able to turn things around as they, led by Brady, straightened out a 2-2 start and obviously ended up winning a championship. Kudos to those who stood by him and the chants of “Brady, Brady” this season both in the Cincinnati 43-17 blowout win in Week 5 and as he walked off the field in the AFC Championship Game to an incredible ovation, stand out as two of the better moments of last season in terms of the level of appreciation that was shown for the guy who brought four titles to this region.
It’s interesting to know that the fire appears to be burning just as hot as he prepares to start it all over in the months ahead. According to Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston, sources close to Brady have revealed that they’ve never seen him as excited to start putting the work in to get ready to try and win it all again in 2015.
One tidbit I came across looking back after he won the last one in 2004 was the fact that he appeared on 60 minutes and admitted that while it’s great to win, it’s important to celebrate but make sure it’s kept in perspective.
“Yeah, sure do,” Brady told Steve Kroft back in June of 2005 when asked if he gets excited about winning the Super Bowl. “At the thoughts of winning it. Oh, yeah. Every time, it’s been a different feeling, too. It’s been the ultimate high. You know, you gotta find a way to, as best you can, keep it in perspective, or else you’re just gonna kinda wither off those two months later.”
Brady also said something in the interview which, as we know, defines who he is here in New England. Brady admitted that it was someone who spoke to his team about avoiding self-defeating attitudes and being positive, which if he was able to do that would affect not only himself but guys around him.
“I had talked to a guy who worked with a lot of the athletes at the school. He was a really neat person, a person I stay in contact with,” said Brady, who at the time was just 27 when he won his third ring. “He used to come and speak in front of our whole team about self-defeating attitudes and behaviors, and how you can beat yourself before you even go out there to compete, not only athletics, but in life. And just the positive attitude, and setting goals, and understanding that the only thing you can control is your attitude. Regardless of any of the other things that happen in your life, there’s only so much you can do, and you can control what you can control. And that was my preparation, my effort, my leadership – not how other people affected me, but how I affected them.”
Obviously it’s been an approach that’s served him well, and looking back on this season it likely played a big role considering the adversity this team dealt with early on. But in the end he never faltered, and now at the age of 37 it seems like he’s excited about getting another shot.
Speaking of Brady, according to Star Magazine it appears that the thought of being in the movies is something that could be in the cards for the veteran quarterback once his career comes to an end. The source reportedly told the magazine: “At 37, Tom knows he only has a few seasons left before retirement. He’s thinking ahead and believes he could become a huge movie star.” Brady’s already set to appear in “Ted 2” and “Entourage” next summer, and he had a memorable appearance on Saturday Night Live a few years ago. It’s tough to imagine Brady not involved with football, which seems to be a more likely future. But hopefully it will be a while before it’s something he’ll need to worry about… Steelers GM Kevin Colbert stood behind his decision when asked about cutting LeGarrette Blount, who was let go after he walked out on the team in his final game with the Steelers after getting on the bus with plenty of time left during their Monday night win over Tennessee back in November. When asked about if he had any regrets, he replied, “None whatsoever.” Obviously no one in New England is disappointed and after winning a championship, one would believe Blount likely isn’t either… Last offseason Bill Belichick played an important role in one of the league’s rule changes, including the extension of the goal posts by five feet, and it actually came into play at one point in the season against the Broncos. According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, Belichick’s influence on the rules may play a factor this offseason after he proposed last year at the NFL’s annual meetings to reduce current restrictions and allow coaches to challenge any call on the field, particularly judgment penalties such as pass interference. It didn’t go through, but considering the issues the league had in 2014 it’s reportedly expected to be a “major” topic of discussion this year, according to Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who is a leading member of the NFL’s competition committee…. As the “Deflate Gate” saga drags on, I came across a tidbit from SI.com regarding the Patriots ability to file a lawsuit against the league given how this whole situation has played out should they be penalized. Robert Kraft obviously demanded an apology before the Super Bowl if they’re cleared, but if they’re not, it sounds like they’ll be stuck with whatever penalty they’re handed and won’t be able to file a lawsuit. According to SI.com, “Under the league constitution, the commissioner’s punishments of teams are final and not subject to review. Teams also contractually assent to not sue the league or one another, meaning the Patriots won’t be filing a lawsuit against Goodell or the NFL.” That apparently ends the debate that the team will have any recourse, but knowing that, it now makes how this plays out even that much more interesting… Nick Caserio is going to have quite the job this offseason in trying to put together the 2015 version of this football team, which includes some deals getting done like ones for Revis, Devin McCourty, Shane Vereen, and others. One thing he noted was the fact that things are probably going to change and that this team will be “different” next season. Caserio told the team’s official site, “Those are decisions that will be made at the appropriate time. The reality is our team is going to be different from what it was last year.” … Former Patriot Armond Armstead saw his career in New England come to an end before it even had a chance to get started, but now according to the Boston Herald, apparently his brother, Arik, is trying to “carry on that torch” for him. “My brother not being able to play anymore, that’s why I’m trying to carry on that torch,” Arik Armstead told the newspaper. “Going through recruiting in high school, I wanted to be like him. I really started playing football when I fell in love with the game early on when I was little. My brother, hearing his name, he was a big-time recruit in high school and I wanted to be just like him. I fell in love with football and he’s been helping me ever since. He kind of paved the way for me.” … Malcolm Butler’s life has been a whirlwind since making the interception heard around the world earlier this month and he was honored Saturday in Vicksburg, Miss. with what one resident told the Clarion Ledger was the “biggest parade ever”. Butler’s been in quite the demand and according to the newspaper it was LeGarrette Blount who foreshadowed how different his life was about to vecome. “Somehow, I could hear his voice,” Butler said of Blount. “And he just kept saying, ‘You have no idea what you just did. You don’t realize how your life just changed.’ And I really didn’t. I guess it takes a day like this for it to really hit me.” Good for him. … And finally Chris Price of WEEI pointed out yesterday that Julian Edelman has apparently moved ahead of both Brady and even Gisele Bundchen in the fashion world. Edelman was named “the most fashionable celebrity in Boston by” US Trendy, beating out Brady, who came in at No. 7, and his wife, Gisele, who was No. 3. Let the trash talking begin.