The 24-year-old was selected in the first round of the 2012 Draft by the Patriots and played a role as a two-down player in his first season at the club.
"I think I just finally got comfortable," Hightower told reporters. "Then to lose a lot of leadership on the team, I hadn't been asked to do anything like that since college.
"At first, it was a little shaky and a little nervous. But the guys were still behind me, and they talked me through it. Eventually, I started playing better, and I feel like we all started playing better."
Hightower recorded 97 tackles and one sack in the 2013 season.