Shortly after they acquired Kyle Van Noy from the Detroit Lions, the New England Patriots made a shocking move: fellow linebacker Jamie Collins, fresh off a Pro Bowl campaign, was shipped off to the Cleveland Browns.
Van Noy, as it turned out, was not brought in to play alongside Collins but rather to replace him. One person who was not happy about this development was the leader of the New England linebacker room, Dont’a Hightower.
As Van Noy revealed during a press conference on Thursday, he believes Hightower did not like him very much upon his arrival.
“When I first got here, High, I don’t think he liked me too much,” Van Noy said. “Just because, unfortunately we traded our guy Jamie — we’re all brothers now so I’m able to talk about it — so he didn’t like me for a little bit.
“At first I had to ask him where I had to go on plays and I told myself, ‘By the time I’ve been here for a month, I’m not going to ask him where I need to go on a play.’ He already has the green dot, he gets tired, he don’t want to talk to you. I was like, ‘You know what, to make his job easier I’ve got to learn the defense inside and out.’”
To do that, Van Noy started spending 16 hours per day for a whole month at Gillette Stadium. He eventually did get acclimated to the Patriots system, which helped him earn a starting spot alongside Hightower down the stretch.
New England won the Super Bowl that year, with another Lombardi Trophy being earned two seasons later. By that time, Hightower and Van Noy had already developed a pretty good chemistry — one that still exists to this day (even after Van Noy left for Miami for one season).
“I love High for that story,” Van Noy said. “He pushed me because he knew so much that I wanted to be the that person for him, that he didn’t ever have to worry about what I’m doing. Then it happened so fast, to where we’re on the same page towards the end of the year and Super Bowl, where now I just have to look at him and he knows what I’m thinking and I know what he’s thinking.”