Dont’a Hightower to rush pass more for Patriots?

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Many thought the Patriots had moved up in the draft two times on 2012 to stock up on pass rushers, Dont’a Hightower and Chandler Jones were touted pass rushers coming out of college. And while Chandler Jones has been able to pin his ears back from the defensive end position, Hightower has been a more tradition three-down line backer.

He is becoming more consistent in coverage and tracking down running backs. But even he admitted that he doesn’t love defending speedster running backs, at least in 7-on-7 drills.

“I’m not a 7-on-7 [drills] person; I don’t like to chase [running back] Shane Vareen around,” he said to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss.

Reiss noted that Hightower has been taking more reps on the line of scrimmage in OTAs and rushing the passer more than he has. So will this serve as a turning point for Hightower?

These sound similar to rumblings he made when Jerod Mayo began rushing the passer in preseason last year. Mayo began rushing up the middle, generating pressure and sacks. But come regular season, his role returned to the traditional middle linebacker role where he worked with Vince Wilfork to shore up the run defense.

Hightower may play a bigger role as a pass rusher this season, but he is not going to be a pass rusher. Hightower has proved too important in coverage, accounting for an interception in the Playoffs. This is another step for Hightower in becoming a more elite, well-rounded player. His responsibilities on the team won’t change. He just might have more of them.