Hightower acknowledges mental endurance test of rookie year

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Hightower acknowledges mental endurance test of rookie year

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have made an appearance in the playoffs in 10 of the last 12 seasons. So it's safe to say Bill Belichick knows a thing or two about coaching in the postseason. 
One thing he's conscious of every single year is how his rookies are holding up. 
Earlier this week, the final week of the regular season, Belichick talked about how wear-and-tear can really show on players at this juncture of the season. And he wasn't just talking about guys getting banged up; one would be hard-pressed to find someone in the locker room who isn't nursing at least a hurt toe. 
The coach was talking about how, even for a top NCAA team like Alabama, the biggest game of the year might be No. 14, that final bowl game. Patriots rookie linebacker Dont'a Hightower, former member of the Crimson Tide, is now entering his 17th week of the NFL season and the toughest tests are still ahead. 
It's a different kind of endurance test. 
"Physically its a drain and then mentally it adds up, too," Belichick said. "I think thats the challenge for the rookies: to try to keep bouncing back from that each week and get into a routine so its doesnt get a real high effort one week and then they have to drop way down the next week because they cant sustain it, but to try to be at that high professional level, that 98-, 99-percent level with consistency."
Though Hightower acknowledged the physical demands are greater in the pros, he sounded unfazed. There are practical ways to cope, after all. 
"It's different type of playing styles from NFL to college. But I've had the older guys tell me to take care of my body and what to do, some of the tricks -- get massages, more ice tub, more treatment on small needs, and things like that. I feel pretty good as far as my health and my body goes." 
But he does agree with his coach.
"I feel like it would be more mentally draining than physically. Of course, everybody's physically gifted to be able to get to this point, but mentally, if you can't come in and get treatment and get massages, watch extra film, try to stay on top of things like that -- the mental aspect is definitely the hardest at this point of trying to transform yourself into a professional NFL player." 

Steelers GM on Hightower: 'It didn't work'

Steelers GM on Hightower: 'It didn't work'

Speaking to reporters at the NFL owners meetings in Arizona, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert touched briefly on the team’s unsuccessful attempt to lure Dont’a Hightower away from New England in free agency. 

Hightower returned to the Patriots this month on a four-year, $43.5 million deal with $19 million guaranteed. He was also courted by the Jets and Steelers, among others, with his offer from the Jets reported to be the biggest before they reportedly pulled it due to physical concerns. 

The Steelers also reportedly offered more money than the Patriots, with Jason La Canfora reporting that Pittsburgh offered more than $9 million annually. Hightower’s deal with the Pats pays him $8.7 million per year. 

“We made an attempt [with Hightower], it didn’t work,” Colbert told reporters. “We’re fine. We move on. Vince Williams, we were very confident in Vince. That’s why we signed him to the extension last year. So that if we got to this point and Lawrence had left us, and we didn’t sign anybody from the outside, Vince was certainly capable of stepping up and being the next guy.”

Hightower is entering his sixth season with the Patriots, who selected him with the 25th overall pick in the 2012 draft. 

Tom Brady tees it up with Jordan Spieth at Augusta National

Tom Brady tees it up with Jordan Spieth at Augusta National

It's been a long time since Tom Brady's been considered a true underdog. You might have to go back to Super Bowl XXXVI for anyone to remember a time when it seemed like the quarterback with the most championships in NFL history was a long shot to win. 

Not when it comes golf, though. 

Brady's a talented golfer, no doubt. He's eagled at Pebble Beach. He once teamed up with Jim Nantz to beat up on two US presidents

But even Brady knew he faced long odds against Jordan Spieth at Augusta. According to Brady's Instagram page, it seems as though the two Under Armour pitch men made up a foursome at the famed course about two weeks before the Masters kicked off. 

Trying to beat @jordanspieth in golf is like trying to arm wrestle @therock... #DreamBig #NeverGiveUp

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

Brady has also taken on Augusta with Rory McIlroy. Still waiting on those scores to come out, but as with the recent Spieth round, probably shouldn't hold your breath.