Hightower quickly learning the Patriot Way


Hightower quickly learning the Patriot Way

FOXBORO -- Dont'a Hightower learns quickly. The rookie linebacker is sounding like a Patriot after just two days of training camp.

I definitely feel like I can help out somewhere along the line. Im going to do what I can, whatever they ask me to do. Whether its kicking or holding the snap, Im going to do whatever I can to get on the field.

His standing isn't as tenuous as all that; nobody will be asking the first-round pick to kick the football. Still, it's smart for Hightower to play the role of sponge for now.

He's already found a wellspring of advice and information: Jerod Mayo.

Hightower said he's followed Mayo's career from the University of Tennessee to New England. Seeing the former Volunteer win Defensive Rookie of the Year honors with 128 tackles clearly made an impression.

"I feel like most linebackers have the mentality that they want to come in and make a big impact. Me talking to him and asking him how he did things as a rookie, how he prepared and things like that, is going to help me out the best, said Hightower.

The Patriots must love the effort at emulation.

During camp, Mayo has been moved inside and outside over all three linebacker positions. When Hightower comes in, he does the same.

Is it too much, too soon? Yes, head coach Bill Belichick said he's wary of throwing too much at the new kid and overwhelming him. But, like with Mayo, the potential can't be wasted.

Hes a smart kid and he definitely understands football concepts. It comes pretty quickly to him so thats good," said Belichick. "He might now know exactly what every part of his assignment is, he just spatially knows where hes playing, who is next to him, can figure out kind of how hes supposed to fit things."

Good instincts, good football IQ, and versatility -- an invaluable mix. And add to that the wisdom not to take anything for granted.

I'm learning everywhere: on the field, off the field, in the weight room," said Hightower. "How to study for a different level, how to understand difference terminology. Again, Mayo's done well here. Brandon Spikes has, too. A lot of guys.

"I'm just trying to learn as much from those guys while I'm still young."

Felger: 'The Oakland Raiders are garbage, and they always have been'

Felger: 'The Oakland Raiders are garbage, and they always have been'

Want a classic Felger rant? Or forget Felger; a classic rant, period?

Watch the video above as Michael Felger eviscerates the Oakland Raiders.

"You know what the Oakland Raiders are? And their fans, and their city? A bunch of dirtbags," Felger said Tuesday on Felger & Mazz. "If that's not the most overrated team and organization in the history of sports, I don't know what is . . . That is a garbage organization and it has always has been.

"And the way people are treating them now, like . . . the Green Bay Packers or the Boston Celtics or the Montreal Canadiens or the New York Yankees are moving, is laughable. Laughable! The Oakland Raiders are garbage. And they always have been."

There's more . . . ,much more. Watch the video to hear the full treatment.

Rules changes are in: Field-goal leap, crackback blocks banned

Rules changes are in: Field-goal leap, crackback blocks banned

PHOENIX -- The NFL has announced which rules, bylaw and resolution proposals passed following Tuesday's vote at the Arizona Biltmore. The full list is below, but here are a couple of the noteworthy changes from a Patriots perspective . . . 

* That leap-the-line play that Jamie Collins and Shea McClellin have executed for the Patriots over the course of the last two seasons? That's been prohibited, as expected. The league did not want coaches to be responsible for putting a player in a position where he may suffer a head or neck injury. (Which is different from a player putting himself in that position with a split-second decision to leave his feet mid-play.)


* Receivers running pass routes can now be considered "defenseless." That means that even within the five-yard "chuck" area beyond the line of scrimmage, receivers will have some measure of protection. The Patriots, like many teams, have called for linebackers to disrupt the routes of shallow crossers, which can lead to monster hits on unexpecting players. Those types of collisions may now be fewer and farther between.

* Crackback blocks are now prohibited by a player who is in motion, even if the player is not more than two yards outside the tackle box at the snap. What's the Patriots connection here? It seems as though the overtime play that won Super Bowl LI -- during which Julian Edelman came in motion and "cracked" down on corner Brian Poole -- is now illegal. We'll look for clarification on this when the league holds its press conference describing the rules changes later on Tuesday.

Approved 2017 Playing Rules Proposals

2a. By Philadelphia; Prohibits the “leaper” block attempt on field goal and extra point plays. (Final language will be available on NFLCommunications.com)  

8.   By Competition Committee; Makes permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. 

9.   By Competition Committee; Changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line for one year only. 

11. By Competition Committee; Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection. 

12. By Competition Committee; Makes crackback blocks prohibited by a backfield player who is in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped. 

13. By Competition Committee; Replaces the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorizes designated members of the Officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews. 

14. By Competition Committee; Makes it Unsportsmanlike Conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock. 

15. By Competition Committee; Makes actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half.

Approved 2017 Bylaw Proposals

4.     By Competition Committee; Liberalizes rules for timing, testing, and administering physical examinations to draft-eligible players at a club’s facility for one year only. 

5.     By Competition Committee; Changes the procedures for returning a player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness to the Active List to be similar to those for returning a player that was Designated for Return.  

6.     By Competition Committee; The League office will transmit a Personnel Notice to clubs on Sundays during training camp and preseason.

Approved 2017 Resolution Proposal

G-4.     By Competition Committee: Permits a contract or non-contract non-football employee to interview with and be hired by another club during the playing season, provided the employer club has consented.