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Report: Hightower, other Patriots do not travel

New England will continue to be without a couple key starters in the third preseason game in Detroit.

Dont'a Hightower was activated from PUP this week and returned to the practice field. But according to a report from ESPN, Hightower is among a group of Patriots who did not travel with the team to Detroit for Friday night's third preseason affair.

ESPN reports that linebackers Hightower, Elandon Roberts and Shea McClellin were not part of the Patriots travel party to take on the Lions. As such, the report speculates that veteran newcomer David Harris could have a big role in the middle of the defense in Detroit.

While Hightower is working back into the mix after missing all of training camp and the two previous preseason games on PUP, Roberts is dealing with a rib injury that saw him carted off the field last Saturday night in Houston. McClellin has been absent with an unknown injury since early in camp that's now forced the veteran to miss three preseason games.

Previously, ESPN also reported that Nate Solder, who returned to practice this week after an extended absence to an unknown issue, did not travel, either. As such, Cameron Fleming is expected to once again be charged with protecting Tom Brady's blind side against the Lions.

While Hightower, Solder, Roberts and McClellin will all apparently be out of action, New England could see running back Mike Gillislee make his debut in Detroit. The free agent addition has missed most of training camp and two preseason games to a hamstring injury that dates back to the spring, but he returned to the practice field on Tuesday and deemed himself "100-percent."

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