Linebacker Dont’a Hightower has been a key leader of the Patriots defense this season. His sack on Andy Dalton in Week 6 forced a momentum-swinging safety that many credit to jump-starting New England’s second half burst in route to a 35-17 victory. Hightower forced a safety by sacking Cleveland Browns quarterback Cody Kessler in Week 5 as well.
The fifth-year linebacker has received some help in the middle of the field from rookie Elandon Roberts this season. The sixth round pick out of Houston has played key snaps for the Patriots as their linebacking corps has been slowed by nagging injuries.
Hightower spoke of Roberts with high praise on his Monday appearance on Boston radio station WEEI.
“He’s a missile, man. He’s a torpedo. He’s a hammer,” Hightower said. “Coming in, he was real eager to learn and was kinda limited in certain roles because of his height. He works well with what he does. He’s a great linebacker. He’s always asking questions he’s always eager to learn.
“He was kind of on special teams and was kind of doing his role there and whenever he was asked to step up, he did it and he did a great job,” Hightower continued. “The gameplans that we do in this defense can be complicated. For him to come in and grasp it as well as he does and for him to be able to get plugged in and do a great job, it says a lot about him.”
Roberts ranks 11th on the Patriots with 15 tackles. He came up with a huge tackle for loss against the Browns, pummeling Joe Thomas before bringing down Isaiah Crowell behind the line of scrimmage.