NEW ORLEANS — Quick-hit thoughts and notes around the New England Patriots and NFL:
1. When Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower injured his right knee in the season opener but remained on the sideline the rest of the game — at one point riding a stationary bike — it was generally viewed as a sign that the injury wasn’t severe and might not even keep him out one week. Since that time, I’m told that Hightower sought a second opinion over the last week from Dr. James Andrews. When I saw Hightower a few days ago, he didn’t confirm plans to visit Andrews, but he also didn’t deny it, only saying with a smile, “I’m OK.” That Hightower was believed to be seeking more clarity on the injury days after the opener was notable to me based on the initial optimism. This is the same knee that led to him beginning training camp on the physically unable to perform list.
1b. Contract note: As part of the four-year pact he signed with the Patriots in the offseason, Hightower can earn up to $875,000 in roster bonuses, which are paid in $54,687 per-game installments if he’s on the 46-man game-day roster. That’s a higher total than most players. Hightower has already been ruled out for the Patriots’ Week 2 game against the Saints.