LSU starting QB, other players to meet with police


LSU starting QB, other players to meet with police

From Comcast SportsNet Tuesday, August 23, 2011
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- LSU starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson and three of his teammates have decided to meet with police at an undisclosed time and location Tuesday. Police Sgt. Don Stone announced Monday night that the meeting would take place and said authorities are keeping the details secret to ensure "the integrity of the investigation is not hampered or disturbed." Police have asked Jefferson, along with offensive lineman Chris Davenport, defensive lineman Josh Johns and receiver Jarvis Landry, to offer their recollection of last Thursday night's fight. Four people were injured in the scuffle, none of them players, and one person's injuries were serious enough that two players could face felony battery charges, Stone said. He said two other players could be charged with misdemeanor simple battery. He declined to say which two players could face the more serious charges. Earlier Monday, defense attorney Nathan Fisher, who is representing the four LSU players, had said he was not aware of an impending meeting between his clients and police. However, that changed after authorities agreed to a new meeting location. Investigators initially asked the players to come to police headquarters on Monday morning, but that was delayed after the players hired Fisher, who is known for representing LSU players in the past. Stone said such delays are standard when people of interest in investigations hire attorneys. Stone also stressed that Police Chief Dewayne White is not giving LSU players any special treatment and the investigation of the fight will continue with or without players' cooperation. "These guys aren't going anywhere, they're not a flight risk. It's not like we don't know where they're at," Stone said. "It's not like we're sitting around waiting for them. We still have witnesses to interview. ... And if it reaches the point to where the evidence supports the allegations, we'll obtain arrest warrants for the persons responsible. And if it's these four football players, they'll be arrested and booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish jail." Witnesses have described one of the victims being kicked in the head while lying on the ground, Stone said. He declined to specify who did the kicking or who got kicked. LSU practiced Monday evening, but university officials said none of the players who have been named in the investigation would be made available to the media. Players who did talk to reporters were instructed not to answer any questions about their memories of what happened at the bar not far from campus. The players were out after a curfew imposed by the coaching staff when the fight took place. However, LSU athletics spokesman Michael Bonnette said players traditionally conclude fall camp, which this year ended last Thursday, by socializing together after curfew. Bonnette said that tradition has spanned the tenures of a number of coaches. Nonetheless, coach Les Miles has said the allegations surrounding the fight have made him "miserable," and the entire team has been punished with additional conditioning during practice, such as running. Miles also said more punishment would be forthcoming as more details of the investigation were revealed. As of Monday night, though, no players had been suspended. The fourth-ranked Tigers open the season against No. 3 Oregon on Sept. 3 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Jefferson was expected to be the starting quarterback, but if he cannot play, fellow senior Jarrett Lee would be the likely starter behind center, with junior college transfer Zach Mettenberger next in line. Lee, who has been taking some snaps with the first team since before the alleged fracas, said there were not any substantial changes to the practice routine on Monday and Jefferson continued to also receive his regular work with the starters. "Nothing changed. Practice was the same. We had a great practice today," Lee said. "All of us quarterbacks, we know to be good you have to prepare each and every day to be the starter, whether your opportunity comes or not, so we're going to continue to work hard." "It's an unfortunate situation," Lee added. "You never want something like this to happen to your football team. We're family. We're a close-knit group. Things like this happen. ... All the great teams have their ups and downs. It's about how you bounce back and we're going to stay positive and keep working hard." Lee has been teammates with Jefferson for the past three seasons, and said he did not see any noticeable difference in Jefferson's demeanor. "He's a great guy, great friend," Lee said. "He's still working hard, still practicing hard, still laughing in the film room." Stone said Jefferson, Davenport, Johns and Landry are currently the only people of interest in the case, but added that investigators are still interviewing witnesses and that more players could have been involved. Authorities have obtained security video from a business neighboring the bar, which is in a strip mall just south of campus. Stone declined to talk about what the video shows. Fisher, meanwhile, said he did not want to discuss the facts of the case in the media. Fisher did say he believes Stone has made several inaccurate statements, but declined to specify. Currently, police are aware of only four alleged victims whose names they have not released. The four were treated at a hospital and released. Three had minor injuries and a fourth had the more serious injury that would warrant the second-degree battery charges, Stone said. The victims have hired an attorney, Michael Bienvenue, and have indicated they want to press charges, Stone said. Bienvenue did not return a phone message left at his office.

Hightower on Collins: 'He makes it a lot easier for me'


Hightower on Collins: 'He makes it a lot easier for me'

FOXBORO -- Dont'a Hightower is coming off of one of the best games of his career, and he did it while running the Patriots defensive huddle without the help of his on-the-field partner at the linebacker level.

"It’s a lot more fluent having Jamie [Collins] out there," Hightower said on Wednesday. "A lot of the times we coordinate things a lot together. I usually take care of the front, he takes care of the secondary. We have our own way of doing things. Sometimes Jamie is just like, ‘No, you go ahead and you just make the calls and I’ll play off of you.’

"It helps having him out there. I mean, he does everything so he makes it a lot easier for me. Anytime I can have him out there with me, I’m 100 percent having him out there."

Hightower has plenty of experience playing without Collins, however, and Collins is accustomed to having to go without Hightower. Both had issues staying on the field in 2015, and although it's early, that trend has continued this season.

Hightower missed Weeks 2 and 3 due to a knee injury, and Collins missed Week 6 with a hip issue, meaning the duo has been available to coach Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia only three times this year. 

Last season the pair was active for 10 of 18 games, including both playoff games, and during a Week 5 win over the Cowboys, Hightower played just nine snaps. Collins dealt with an illness that kept him out for four games last season, and Hightower, as has been the case for much of his career, was limited by (and often played through) myriad ailments.

Both are vital to the long-term success of the Patriots defense in 2016, but it's been hit-or-miss as to when they'll be out there to play off of one another as Hightower described.

"Our linebackers, Jamie, Dont'a, they're two of the best in the league," said safety Duron Harmon following Hightower's dominating performance against the Bengals in Week 6. "Any time we can have those guys out there, they just continue to create havoc.

"They make plays, they make it easier for us, especially me. The quarterback can't look off as long when Dont'a's all in his face -- him and Jamie. Having him on the field is a plus. And when you get both of them on the field it's a double-plus."

And therein lies the issue: Having both Hightower and Collins out there together has felt like a luxury rather than the norm. 

At some point, the Patriots will have to make decisions as to what they'll do at the linebacker level for the foreseeable future. Both Hightower and Collins are slated to hit free-agency, and their durability will certainly factor into the equation when the Patriots make them offers to stick in New England.

Until then, though, both will work to be available as often as possible -- both for their team's sake and their own as they eye new deals -- where they can stress opposing offenses at a degree to which most linebacker combinations around the league can only aspire. 

"With us out there we’re able to do a lot of different things, [we have] a lot of versatility," Hightower said. "So hopefully we can both stay out there."

Hightower was removed from the Patriots injury report last week, meaning he's able to take on a full workload in practice. Collins, meanwhile, continues to be limited in practice, and his availability for Sunday's game with the Steelers is not yet known. In place of Collins, sixth-round rookie Elandon Roberts earned the bulk of the playing time against the Bengals last week. Linebacker Barkevious Mingo saw a season-high eight defensive snaps in the win.