On both sides of the football, the Patriots are searching for answers after an unusual 1-2 start to the 2018 season.
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower took personal responsibility Thursday for the way he’s performed thus far, which hasn’t lived up to his own expectations.
“Obviously, it’s still early in the season. We’ve all got a lot of work to do, but me, personally, I hold myself to a higher standard than that. I didn’t play great [last week in Detroit], but I just want to get better each week. That’s all I can hope for.”
Earlier this week, Hightower was seen spending considerable time in the locker room with other defensive teammates talking what appeared to be scheme and technique. He acknowledged to reporters that these types of continuing discussions need to take place right now for the Patriots to get on the same page as a defense.
“It’s really important that we’re a lot more detailed and spend more time on just trying to get everything down pat, when everyone knows what everyone else is doing, so we can play faster.”
On the other side of the ball, New England’s offensive line has been frustrated by its lack of consistency, particularly when it comes to running the football, as right guard Shaq Mason admitted.
“It’s definitely disappointing, not just for me. As a team, we want to get the ball rolling by running the ball. It’s a good feeling, always, to know you can move the ball on the ground. Running the ball definitely builds confidence in the line as a unit. Running the ball is imposing your will.”
When watching film of the first three games, Mason said the issue is an obvious one.
“You know what the problem is… definitely execution,” he declared. “Really, just all being on the same page. Taking what we see from past games and improving on it.
We’re harping on technique and getting the job done.”
A few new Patriots are still getting adjusted to life in Foxborough. Defensive end/outside linebacker John Simon joked that he’s barely been here 48 hours, but is thrilled to be swamped with work.
“Having a good time learning the system and looking to help the team any way I can,” said the veteran, who’s spent most of his six-year career with the Houston Texans.
“You just have to be a pro – come in here and do what they ask you to do, learn as fast as you can, do a little extra. I’m going to be myself, just work as hard as I can and try to earn the guys’ respect.
“In Houston, with [Mike] Vrabel, Romeo Crennel, a lot of those guys were here before, so, I kind of know the culture, and that’s helped me out a little bit.”
Meanwhile, running back Kenjon Barner has been signed, released, and re-signed by the Patriots this month, and has yet to suit up in a game. He spoke about the unexpected week off and subsequent surprise call to return again this week.
“Quick turnaround,” he smiled. “I stayed here for a day, then flew back home to California, went to [my alma mater, the University of] Oregon for their game, flew back to California, and got the call to come back here when I was getting on the plane Monday night. Busy, busy Monday for me. I had to go home and pack some warner clothes.”