We take a look back at Dont'a Hightower's 2016 season and offer our predictions for 2017.
2016 Honors & Awards: Pro Bowl (1st), Co-Captain (1st), AFC Defensive Player of the Week (Week 6).
2016 Regular Season Stats: 65 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble and two passes defensed in 13 games played.
In Dont'a Hightower's first season as a defensive co-captain, the fifth-year linebacker led the Patriots defense to lead the league in fewest points allowed during the 2016 season:
- Finished with a team-leading 10 tackles in Week 10 action vs. Seattle to mark the 15th 10-plus tackle game of his career and his second of the 2016 season.
- Sacked Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton in the end zone for an eight-yard sack and a safety in the third quarter of the win vs. Cincinnati to mark his second career NFL points.
- Recorded his second career multi-sack game vs. Cincinnati when he notched 1.5 sacks for 12.5 yards in the Week 6 victory.
Check out the best photos of Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower from the 2016 NFL season.
Belichick on Hightower: "[Dont'a Hightower] is really smart, he's very football smart, he has got very good instincts in all phases of the game, in the running game, in the passing game, as a pass rusher. He does all of those things well but he understands them well. He's really smart. He can handle any of that. He can handle any coverage adjustments, he can handle the running game, he can handle pass-rush games, the strategy that we use there as a defensive linemen, so there's really no issues with him at all.
Hightower in 2017: Hightower's versatility separates him from the pack and his ability to provide big plays at the most opportune moments is a huge plus for the defense. After re-signing in the offseason, Hightower will continue to make an impact as a pass rusher and run-stopper in the heart of the Patriots defense.