MX23RW : Friday, September 21 10:29:08

Dont'a Hightower looking forward to extra defensive duties

New England Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower insists that he is looking forward to the new defensive responsibilities he has inherited following Jerod Mayo's injury.

New England Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower has said that he is looking forward to being handed extra responsibilities in the wake of Jerod Mayo's injury.

Hightower will wear the communication device in his helmet and lead the defensive huddle after Mayo was ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle.

The added duties could be a big ask for someone who is only in his second season as an NFL player, but Hightower insists that he is not nervous about it and is, instead, relishing the opportunity.

"I'm looking forward to it. It's definitely something that I knew down the road, if something ever happened, that I would have to step up and do it," Hightower told reporters.

"I'm not nervous about it. It's something I've done before, maybe not in the NFL [but] I know everyone is behind me and they support me. That's all I can ask for."

Hightower's first test in his increased role will come against the New York Jets on Sunday as the Patriots look to extend their lead at the top of the AFC East.

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Jerod Mayo #51 of the New England Patriots defends against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on December 10, 2012
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