Raekwon McMillan remembers keeping an eye out from the sideline when the New England Patriots visited Hard Rock Stadium. A member of the Miami Dolphins from 2017 through 2019, the linebacker had a clear view of another at his position there.
“Man, when they would come down to Hard Rock and their defense was on the field, I was watching No. 54 the whole time,” McMillan told reporters of the Patriots captain during post-practice availability on Monday. “No ifs ands or buts about it.”
Originally drafted No. 54 overall out of Ohio State, McMillan missed his rookie season due to a torn ACL and would be active for three games versus New England while on the other side of the AFC East.
He totaled 19 tackles for Miami through those matchups, playing 141 snaps on defense and 19 snaps on special teams.
“At the time, I think it was like ’18 when Tom Brady was still on the team,” added McMillan. “As soon as we go back, I watched our offense on the field and I watched Hightower play the whole game. That’s all I would watch the entire game. That’s who I eventually want to be like one day.”
Asked why Hightower, in particular, McMillan ran through a shortlist of names that made for appointment viewing when his side’s offense was on the field.
“At the time, I think it was Bobby Wagner, High and maybe Patrick Willis? No, Patrick Willis was already gone,” McMillan recalled. “It was a couple of other ‘backers around the league that when they play, you’re going to sit there and watch them. I just gave him that respect when he was on the field, and it still applies now.”
The 25-year-old McMillan would be traded to the Las Vegas Raiders leading up to the NFL roster deadline last August. He appeared in every game and started four before signing with New England as an unrestricted free agent in March.
There’s a closer view of a two-time Pro Bowler, three-time Super Bowl champion and Patriots All-Decade selection now.
“Everything he does, how his thought process goes, his leadership and stuff like that, I just try to soak it all in,” McMillan said.