New England Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower has reportedly suffered what's believed to be a minor MCL sprain, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, who added that Hightower could potentially play in Week 2 given the extra break the Patriots will have after playing on Thursday night.
Hightower, 27, suffered the injury in the third quarter of New England's 42-27 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Losing Hightower for any time would be a significant loss for a Patriots team that gave up 271 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns to Kansas City's running backs Kareem Hunt and Charcandrick West. And the Patriots are already thin at linebacker, as Phil Perry of CSNNE.com noted:
"To begin the game, the Patriots used safety Jordan Richards as a linebacker on the end of the line opposite Hightower. Newcomer Cassius Marsh, another edge player, saw significant work after being traded to the Patriots less than a week ago. Kyle Van Noy tied for the team lead in snaps played with 68. David Harris, meanwhile, saw just two snaps as the Patriots relied on dime packages for much of the night."
Another concern is the fact that Hightower has dealt with knee injuries throughout his career and missed 11 games between the 2014-16 seasons. He spent much of the preseason on the physically unable to perform list with an unspecified injury, though Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald noted in August that Hightower was working with Tom Brady's trainer, Alex Guerrero, to "build strength in his knee."
Hightower may ultimately be able to play in Week 2, but his knee will continue to be a cause for unease in New England.