Hightower (pectoral) was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, Field Yates of ESPN reports. Hightower underwent season-ending pectoral surgery nearly two weeks ago and now officially has been placed on injured reserve. Without both Hightower and fellow linebacker Shea McClellin (concussion), the Patriots will have to rely on their depth at the position for the remainder of the season, starting with David Harris and Marquis Flowers.
Hightower has been diagnosed with a torn pectoral muscle and will miss the remainder of the season, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports. Hightower had already been ruled out this Sunday, but Thursday morning's news serves as a devastating blow to a defense that had already been struggling this year. Over five games this season, Hightower had collected 14 combined tackles and two sacks. This is his sixth season with New England, and will mark his first year in which he fails to amass 60 total tackles. In Hightower's stead, look for Marquis Flowers to fill in at linebacker unless the Patriots look outside the organization for a replacement. When Hightower missed two games earlier this year, Flowers saw an uptick in snaps and made three combined tackles.
Hightower injured his shoulder during Sunday's 23-7 victory over the Falcons. Although the specifics of Hightower's injury aren't clear, this is definitely a concerning development since Hightower missed two games earlier in the season with a sprained knee. The linebacker will presumably undergo further testing in the coming days, but there's a chance his status won't be known until the Patriots release their first injury report of the week Wednesday.
Hightower (knee) was a limited participant in Wednesday's practice and is listed as questionable for Thursday's game against the Buccaneers. Hightower was able to play against the Panthers on Sunday with this injury, so it's likely the Patriots are limiting him as a precautionary measure. However, he only played 37 defensive snaps in Week 4, and he may be held back again Thursday. Therefore, his IDP value is tough to project, but the 10-day break following the midweek matchup should help Hightower's journey to full health.
Hightower (knee) is active for Sunday's game against the Panthers. Hightower sat out New England's previous two tilts due to his sprained knee. He's expected to jump back into the starting lineup, though he may see a limited role if the team tries to ease his workload to prevent worsening the injury. Expect Kyle Van Noy to see some extra reps once again if Hightower is limited.