Three weeks ago yesterday, New England Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower made a key tackle to set up the game winning interception by Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl XLIX. At the time, he was fighting through a torn labrum. Last week, Hightower underwent surgery to repair that ligament.
We now have more information on the timetable for recovery, via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald:
Dont’a Hightower, who played through a torn shoulder labrum suffered in Week 13 against the Packers, underwent surgery last week. Now new information emerged regarding his rehab timetable.
Hightower’s recovery is expected to span six or seven months, according to a source. The Patriots officially open training camp around July 29, and a six-month window would have Hightower ready Aug. 10. The seven-month window would put him in line to be ready for the regular-season opener around Sept. 10.
Even if Hightower recovers quickly and is ready for the start of training camp, it would likely be in a limited nature. Howe suggests that perhaps the Patriots could limit Hightower similar to how they limited tight end Rob Gronkowski when he returned from injury last training camp (participate in practice with limited contact, no preseason games).
Howe also makes an interesting point regarding Jerod Mayo. With Mayo currently recovering from a torn patellar tendon, the Patriots theoretically have to bring his $4.5 million guarantee for injury into play in negotiations. The Patriots cannot release Mayo without owing him that money until he passes a physical. When you look at that with the fact that Hightower’s week one availability is in reasonable question, Mayo will have some serious leverage in potential restructure negotiations.
However, Mayo’s recovery timeline is also a question mark. If for some reason he is not available for the start of training camp, then the Patriots could suddenly be thin at linebacker to start the 2015 season.