Hightower says he's a game-time decision Sunday


Hightower says he's a game-time decision Sunday

FOXBORO -- Dont'a Hightower gave as best an update on his injured hamstring as he could Friday.
"Right now it's a day-to-day thing. It's going to be up to team athletic trainer Jim Whalen and Coach Belichick," he said in the locker room. "But each day it's getting better, I'm feeling better, I'm moving around great. So it's going to be a game-time decision; it's going to be up to them."
Hightower was injured during the first quarter last Sunday when he ran through Bills running back C.J. Spiller en route to sacking quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. He played just nine of 77 offensive snaps.
"It was definitely hard going down, but Tracy White did a really good job of stepping in and doing my job," he said. "Definitely well-prepared. He's a great player. Rob Ninkovich and everybody else did a great job picking up where I left off. Hopefully I'll be able to get out there this weekend so we don't have to go through that again."
When asked if he was fighting through pain, the linebacker shook his head.
"No pain. I'm out there, I'm running around and doing everything I can but again, each day it's a day-by-day thing and we're going to have to see about that."
New England plays the Broncos Sunday. If Hightower is inactive, not only would it be the first missed start of his rookie career, it would be the first missed game.
The decision is out of his hands at this point.
"It's up to coach," Hightower said. "If he feels like I'm ready to go, then I'm going to go out there and I'm going to do what I can."

Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots


Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots

Marcus Cannon has had his run as a piñata. The Patriots offensive lineman is a frequent target when things go wrong up front and, usually, he’s deserved it.

A bit of anecdotal evidence? 

Sunday, I tweeted that every time I watched Cannon, he was making another good play.

On cue, about 10 tweets came back at me with variations of “Keep watching him!”

I asked Bill Belichick if he agreed with the layman’s assessment that Cannon’s playing well.

“I think Marcus [Cannon] has done a good job for us for quite a while,” Belichick began. “I mean he’s stepped in for Sebastian [Vollmer] and then last year when Nate [Solder] was out [and he substituted] for Nate. He has played a lot of good football for us.

“We extended our agreement with him off of his rookie contract which I think speaks to the fact that we want him on the team and we like what he’s doing and so forth and he’s continued to I’d say show with his performance [that he has] validated the confidence that we have in him.”

Cannon’s ending to 2015 – a poor performance (along with the rest of the line) against the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game was followed by a performance against the Cardinals that was marred by late-game holding calls.

But with Sebastian Vollmer injured (and still injured) it was sink or swim with Cannon which had plenty of people rolling their eyes.

But – as I said – every time I see Cannon, he’s either holding off a defensive end in pass protection, steamrolling downfield in the running game or making really athletic second-level or cut blocks in the screen game.

“Like every player, as they gain more experience they do get better,” said Belichick. “I think our offensive line’s certainly improved over the course of the year and playing with more consistency than we did last year. But there’s always room for improvement and the continuity that we’ve had there since (right guard) Shaq [Mason] has gotten in the last few weeks – we had Shaq over on the right side a little bit at the end of the season last year and then this year most all of the year except when Shaq was out for a few weeks there at the end of training camp and the start of the season – but our overall consistency and communication on the offensive line has been better because we’ve had more continuity there so that helps everybody.”

It can’t hurt that the lineman whisperer, Dante Scranecchia, has returned to coach the group. Cannon’s conditioning and physique looks better. He just appears more athletic and explosive. And he’s seemed more relaxed in the limited time the media’s in the locker room.

All off that added up equals nobody really talking about Marcus Cannon.
“Like any lineman, the less you call his name probably the better he’s doing,” said Belichick. “It’s probably a good thing when you guys don’t talk about him. Then that probably means they’re not doing something too noticeably wrong, right?”