Healthy Hightower: 'There's no looking back now'

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Healthy Hightower: 'There's no looking back now'

FOXBORO -- Patriots rookie linebacker Dont'a Hightower returned to game action on Sunday against the Jets, after missing the previous two games with a hamstring injury.

And he didn't miss a beat.

Hightower recorded a season-high seven tackles and a sack in New England's overtime win. It was just one of the signs that he was held back for two games as a "precaution."

"We waited it out," said Hightower before Thursday's practice. "I got treatment and felt a lot better. So, there's no looking back now. I'm doing everything I can to prevent a hamstring pull or anything like that again. I'm just doing everything I can to stay on the field."

So, just how do you go about preventing a hamstring injury?

"Keep stretching, stay hydrated, just a lot of things," said Hightower. "Make sure you're eating right, the weight thing. Just more or less, stretching more. I think that was probably my biggest problem. But I'm definitely taking care of that now."

And now that he feels healthy, Hightower knows his role on the field once he's done stretching.

"My role is to hit the dude with the ball," he said. "So that's what I'm doing. So, as long as I do that, and Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo aren't yelling at me, I feel like I'm doing my job."

Now almost midway through his first NFL season, Hightower realizes how important veterans like Wilfork and Mayo are around him on the field.

"Those guys have seen a lot and they've been through a lot," said Hightower. "It feels good to have an older guy that you can kind of talk to about certain things that you see and that you feel about, that other rookies can't really help you out because they haven't been here.

"So, having those two guys to fall back on, definitely makes my life a little bit easier. If there are certain concepts I don't understand, I can just talk to Mayo or Vince about it."

And while having veterans around him is nice, Hightower also finds pleasure in seeing fellow rookies making an impact.

"It just feels good to look over and see Chandler Jones and Alfonzo Dennard and Tavon Wilson and Nate Ebner," said Hightower. "All those guys, we got drafted together, and we've been through OTA's together and all of the offseason workouts and all that stuff together. It feels good to see all that hard work and all that dedication that we put in, to see the young guys out on the field making plays and making an impact."

Brown apologizes for 'distraction' caused by Facebook Live video

Brown apologizes for 'distraction' caused by Facebook Live video

Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Antonio Brown posted an apology on social media Tuesday night for his Facebook Live video that has caused a stir over the last few days.

"I let my emotions and genuine excitement get the best of me, and I wanted to share that moment with our fans," said Brown in a statement on his Twitter. ""It was wrong of me to do, against team and NFL policy, and I have apologized to Coach Tomlin and my teammates for my actions.

"I'm sorry to them for letting it become a distraction and something that they've had to answer questions about while we're preparing for a big game on Sunday."

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday that he has “absolutely no worries on the video's effect" on Sunday's game against the Patriots, but it was "selfish and inconsiderate" of his star wide receiver.

Brown could still be fined for violating the league's social-media policy. The policy states that players, coaches and football operations personnel are banned from using social media on game days 90 minutes before kickoff, during games, and before "traditional media interviews."

Haggerty: Bruins would be foolish to deal away Carlo right now

Haggerty: Bruins would be foolish to deal away Carlo right now

There’s been smoke for weeks signaling trade talks between the Boston Bruins and the Colorado Avalanche, and things are reportedly heating up with the Bruins potentially reaching a tipping point with their subpar play on the ice. According to Bleacher Report columnist Adrian Dater, things may be progressing between the two teams because the Bruins are beginning to entertain the idea of trading away 20-year-old top pairing rookie defenseman Brandon Carlo.

Bruins Director of Player Personnel John Ferguson Jr. was expected to be out in Colorado scouting the Avalanche/Blackhawks game on Tuesday night, and perhaps getting a long look at players like Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and Tyson Barrie among others.

The expectation is that 24-year-old Landeskog is in the middle of these trade discussions, and that he would be one of the players targeted by a Bruins team that could use more size on the wing, and more players that can put the puck in the net. Certainly Landeskog has done that in his brief NHL career after being a No. 2 overall pick, and has four 20-goal seasons on his resume prior to a disappointing, injury-plagued current season in Colorado.

The word around the league was that talks fizzled between the Bruins and Avs previously when Joe Sakic asked about the availability of the Colorado Springs native Carlo, and those discussions hit the same crunching roadblock that Winnipeg did in discussions with Boston about Jacob Trouba.

Perhaps that has changed in the last 24 hours after Cam Neely and Don Sweeney watched their Bruins completely no-show against the worst team in the Eastern Conference, the New York Islanders, on Monday afternoon. Now one would expect that Bruins management is getting desperate feeling that a third “Did Not Qualify” for the Stanley Cup playoffs could be in their future if they don’t make a bold, swift move to shake up their dazed hockey club.

But let’s not pull any punches here. The entire Bruins management group should be fired on the spot if they trade a 20-year-old, top pairing shutdown defenseman on an entry level contract like Carlo unless they are getting a bona fide superstar in return. Carlo, Charlie McAvoy and David Pastrnak should all be young, untouchable assets for a Bruins organization that is years away from legitimately holding a chance at a Stanley Cup.

Landeskog is not a bona fide superstar. He’s a good player that’s topped out at 26 goals and 65 points in the NHL, but he’s also the Captain on a horrendous, underachieving Avalanche team over the last three years.

If the price were right for Landeskog it would make all the sense in the world for the Bruins to deal him, but it’s a giant honking red flag that Colorado is looking to unload a player like him that’s signed for a reasonable $5.5 million price tag over the next four seasons. Teams don’t trade young players like that with term unless there’s more to the story, and that’s something the Bruins would do well to consider before giving up a player that could be a top-4 shutdown defenseman in Boston for the next 10 years.

Teams like the Bruins that are in reloading mode also shouldn’t be trading 20-year-old players for 24-year-old players that have already cashed in on their second contract. That’s exactly how the Bruins can get right back into salary cap trouble, and do it with a team that’s producing far less than the Peter Chiarelli groups that were at least still making the playoffs.  

Certainly the Bruins have other young D-men like Charlie McAvoy, Jakub Zboril and Jeremy Lauzon coming down the pipeline, but none of those defensemen are in the mold of a true shutdown D like the 6-foot-5 Carlo. With Zdeno Chara in the final few years of his career with the Black and Gold, the B’s are going to need Carlo to slide into that defensive stopper role given his size, strength, wing span and willingness to do the dirty work the D-zone.

That goes beyond the simple fact that rebuilding the back end with ALL of those young stud D-men is the best way to actually build the Bruins back up into a legitimate Eastern Conference power. 

It would be a giant mistake for the Bruins to ship away a player like Carlo with the hope Landeskog can put Boston over the hump for the playoffs this season, and perhaps ease some of the intense pressure currently weighing on Sweeney and Neely. That kind of desperate move smacks of doing it for all of the wrong reasons, and that’s one way to ensure that the Bruins will never escape the web of mediocrity that they’re currently caught in.