MX23RW : Tuesday, September 25 15:38:51

Dont'a Hightower: 'I grew into leadership role'

New England Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower reveals that he became more of a leader in his second season with the club due to injuries to key players.

New England Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower has revealed that he grew into a leadership role for the club last season.

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.

However, due to an injury to Jerod Mayo, Hightower took over the communication helmet and other responsibilities for Bill Belichick's side.

"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.

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Dont'a Hightower #54 of the New England Patriots celebrates the win over the Philadelphia Eagles on August 9, 2013
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