Thursday, December 12, 2013

Belichick pleased with Hightower as communicator


Dont'a Hightower entered the season determined to be better in pass coverage, where he's proven to be a liability in the New England Patriots' defense.

Through 14 weeks, Hightower still has plenty of room for improvement in that department and could stand for more production against the run, but one thing his team isn't concerned with are his communication skills.

"Good, better each week," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said this week, via "He’s a smart guy. He definitely understands the defense. He has a lot of experience this year obviously in our system.

"He’s a lot more comfortable with what we’re doing, whereas last year he knew it, but I think this year he just knows it better because he’s had a year of experience. He’s done a good job. It really hasn’t been an issue."

The second-year linebacker had taken on pre-snap communication duties upon Jerod Mayo's season-ending injury. He lost that responsibility after struggling a bit but re-gained the role over the past three weeks, according to Tom Curran of CSNNE, and has shown improvement since.

"He’s had a lot of experience of doing that at Alabama and running a defense," Belichick said. "[The defense] they ran at Alabama also involved a lot of adjustments and some checks and some recognition of different things formationally and multiple coverages that – one coverage in one situation, another coverage in another situation, that type of thing.

"I don’t think any of that is too much for him."

Hightower is coming off one of his best games of the season -- an 11-tackle campaign against the Cleveland Browns -- but still has to prove to be more consistent both in effort and productivity.

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