Thursday, April 24, 2014
Dont'a Hightower, the talented second-year linebacker from Alabama, suggested on Wednesday that he was going to be wearing the green dot on his helmet, replacing Jerod Mayo as the New England Patriots defensive playcaller.
Mayo was placed on Injured Reserve by the Patriots Wednesday morning following surgery to repair a torn right pectoral muscle. He wore the green dot on his helmet.
Hightower, who held that role as he helped the Crimson Tide to a national championship, said he was ready to begin his new duties.
"I’m not nervous about it,'' he said, noting that he had talked to defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and linebackers coach Pepper Johnson. "It’s something that I’ve done before, maybe not in the NFL, but I’ve done it before. I know everyone is behind me, they support me. That’s all I can ask for.''
Asked what the addition duties mean, Hightower said, "Just be prepared for everything. Know the game plan ,the ins and outs. Know what everybody has to do, what position they have to be in. When to make checks, what kind of checks. Just be more thorough. Essentially being the quarterback of the defense.''
Hightower said he had worked with Mayo on making defensive calls before, preparing him for just this instance. He added that he had not spoken to Mayo since the injury.
"We're going to give him his space,'' said Hightower.
MATTHEW MULLIGAN, the West Enfield native and former UMaine Black Bear, is settling in with the Patriots. Now in his fifth full week with the team, Mulligan said he has a much better grasp on the offense.
"Every week I just try to get better, get more comfortable, with the system and everything like that,'' he said. "I feel like I’m progressing. I feel like now it’s getting to the point where it’s more than just knowing it now, it’s instincts.''
And that's important. Football is a game that relies on instincts.
"When you know you can play fast and not really think about what you’re doing, that’s when you’re a football player,'' said Mulligan. "When you have to think and go through everything, you’re a little slower and that can be detrimental.''
The Patriots play the New York Jets Sunday, a team Mulligan is quite familiar with. He played three years for them.
"I've always said I appreciate everything they did for me for three years,'' he said. "Really, they gave me my first shot and I'm indebted to them for that. But my business now is to go there and do everything I possibly can to help the Patriots win.''THOSE OF you who listened to the Patriots comeback win over New Orleans on Sunday were treated to a, well, rather enthusiastic radio call by Scott Zolak. Zolak, a former Patriots quarterback and the color analyst, screamed quite loudly and included, among other things, this: "Unicorns, show ponies, where's the beef''
(My wife, Tracie, when she heard this, asked me what he meant. I have no clue.)
I asked Bob Socci, the Patriots play-by-play man,what he was doing while Zolak invoked mythical creatures, circus animals and 80s commercials. "High-fiving Marc (Cappello, the show's producer),'' he said.
Socci doesn't have a clue what Zolak was saying either. "Just Zo being Zo,'' said Socci, who was soaking in the pandemonium.
Mike Lowe has covered the New England Patriots since 1999 for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and has had a nice view of their emergence as one of the NFL’s premier franchises.
He’s been at the paper since 1982 and has covered everything from a Little League World Series to the Summer Olympics. He is married to Tracie and they have three children and two grandchildren.
Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeLowePPH.