By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
As Saturday night's beatdown in Detroit dragged on for the Patriots, my Twitter timeline filled with vitriol for one player: Ndamukong Suh.
Not only was he leading the Lions invasion of the Patriots' backfield, the brilliant second-year player fired a punch at Logan Mankins during a second-quarter dustup.
On Monday, Suh defended himself for throwing the shot at Mankins who, it should be mentioned, was hauling Suh's teammate Lawrence Jackson around by the facemask. "Do I regret it? No," Suh said Monday. "But the funny thing about the whole situation is, I wasn't the one who got the 15-yard penalty for grabbing a face mask (Mankins was penalized). And the other funny piece about it is, I didn't know you can't help protect one of your teammates. "I had a great conversation with the ref who saw everything and he said, 'Next time make sure you let me handle it. But I understand what you were doing, helping your teammate out and removing him from the situation.' " Also on Monday, Suh tweeted out how much he enjoyed beating up on the "Brady bunch" Saturday night. Last season, Suh was in the middle of another scrum after a Patriots PAT with, no surprise, Mankins. Suh is en route to becoming an NFL megastar. Not only is he the most talented player at his position, he's smart, candid and plays with violence. He's been violent enough to be fined three times for quarterback hits.It's in vogue to say Suh is a dirty player. But -- as a commenter on Pro Football Talk mentioned -- the same people who whine about the wussification of the NFL are probably the same ones complaining that Suh is dirty. When you consider the New England Patriots described as dirty over the past seven seasons -- Vince Wilfork, Rodney Harrison and Mankins -- you see a common thread. If you play extremely hard and are also extremely good, you will wind up at the edge of acceptability and some will say you go over it. Suh fits that mold. Patriots fans can hate all they want but Ndamukong Suh is exactly what the NFL needs. Tom E. Curran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
Dont'a Hightower left money on the table in New York and in Pittsburgh, and instead took a smaller deal to return the New England Patriots, according to CBSSports' Jason La Canfora.
The Jets' offer was previously reported to be $12 million per year, including incentives. La Canfora reiterated that report. But he also detailed Pittsburgh's offer, as the Steelers also outbid the Patriots with over $9 million per year.
Instead, Hightower settled for $8.7 million per season with New England, and will play under Bill Belichick in a Patriots jersey for the sixth season in 2017.
Hightower traveled a great deal during free agency, and ended up garnering interest from the Steelers, Jets, Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins.
The 27-year-old linebacker finished the 2016 season with 65 tackles tackles, 2.5 sacks, two pass deflections and one forced fumble. He also had a game-changing strip sack on Matt Ryan in Super Bowl LI that shifted the momentum of game.
The Patriots were represented all over the country on Thursday at various pro days in order to scout potential draftees. They had a scout at Stanford. Bill Belichick was seen at Ohio State. And defensive coordinator Matt Patricia traveled to South Bend in order to get a closer look at some of Notre Dame's best players.
The biggest name working out was quarterback DeShone Kizer -- who threw passes to former Patriots running back Jonas Gray -- but Patricia was probably spending the majority of his energy getting a grip on what the defensive players present could do.
He was seen spending a few extra minutes off to the side with linebacker James Onwualu, who served as a captain last season for the Fighting Irish.
Onwualu checks in at 6-foot-1, 232 pounds and projects as someone who could contribute immediately on special teams as a pro. A former receiver, he has good quickness and experts say he has an unrelenting motor, but his size makes it difficult to envision him as an NFL starter. He made 76 tackles last season, including 11.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks.
Here are a couple of the other Notre Dame defensive prospects Patricia may have had his eyes on . . .
Jarron Jones, defensive tackle: Jones has great size (6-6, 316 pounds, 35.5-inch arms, 10.5 inch hands) and athleticism, but Lance Zierlein of NFL.com spoke to one NFC scouting director who called him a "character flag." Will he be motivated enough to capitalize on his physical gifts as a pro?
Isaac Rochell, defensive tackle: A team captain along with Onwualu last season, the 6-4, 280-pounder was close to an every-down player each of the last three years. Zierlein compares Rochell to newly-acquired Patriots defensive lineman Lawrence Guy since he's a little bit of a 'tweener but a high-energy guy who may have the ability to play multiple positions up front. Could be worthy of late-round consideration for the Patriots.