“Hightower, who sprained his knee in the season opener, is in the game plan for the Patriots’ game against the Panthers on Sunday, according to a source,” Howe writes. “He is expected to return to the lineup barring an unforeseen setback.”
The Patriots will need a strong run defense against the Panthers with both QB Cam Newton and RB Christian McCaffrey big threats out of the backfield. Hightower will provide a nice boost and could line up with Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts in the middle of the defense.
Hightower had previously been lining up on the edge all summer and into the season opener, but maybe he could provide more value at middle linebacker as a possible blitzer, with Kyle Van Noy playing on the edge. Hightower could spy Newton the whole game to ensure he doesn’t escape the pocket.
We will soon find out.