AFC Notes: Dont’a Hightower, Aaron Rodgers, Dolphins, Jets, Patriots


Miami underwent a lot of defensive change this offseason, from releasing veterans like CB Xavien Howard to bringing in new DC Anthony Weaver. Dolphins LB David Long Jr. is confident in their ability to adapt and regroup with the changes they made. 

“Yes sir, we’ve got a lot of dogs coming in, some dogs already there,” Long Jr. said, via Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2. “We’re just reloading. I think the most important thing when it comes to new players and new coaches is the chemistry that comes with time. We built something. The next step is to go to training camp and build from that.”


Several key players for the Jets are entering the third year of their careers, including Sauce Gardner, Breece Hall, Jermaine Johnson, and Garrett Wilson. Jets QB Aaron Rodgers said each of them must step up and be leaders now. 

“Now the fun thing for those guys is, they’re not the young guys. They’re the guys who are grown up, so now it’s time to be a leader,” Rodgers said, via Rich Cimini of ESPN. 

Johnson agreed with Rodgers and thinks each of them “relish” the idea of being leaders and are “exceeding expectations.” 

“I think what Aaron said is great,” said Johnson. “We’re not just young guys anymore. Now we’ve got to step up into our leadership roles, and that’s something that I relish, and I know all these other guys relish. We like pressure, and we like exceeding expectations.”

Wilson thinks they have a “better grasp” on what to expect and is already teaching things to their younger players. 

“Yeah, 100 percent. Once you’ve had three years under your belt or two years, you just have more to give. You’ve got more to talk about. You’ve got a little better grasp on what’s going on,” Wilson said. “We’ve had some young guys come up and it’s really cool because they’re all willing to learn and they’re willing to learn from me.”


With HC Jerod Mayo taking over for former HC Bill Belichick this offseason, New England added former LB Dont’a Hightower to the staff as the inside LB coach. Hightower was looking for something to focus on after his playing career and mentioned there were only two coaches he would work for. 

“It was something I was kind of looking forward to,” Hightower said, via Jeff Howe of The Athletic. “I enjoyed my time off with my family, but I think it was kind of getting to the point where my wife (Morgan) was like, ‘You either need to concentrate on golf, or you need to go coach.’ I feel like it all happened pretty good and at the right time.”

“It was really honestly like if (former Alabama coach) Nick (Saban) or Mayo would have called me, those were the only two people I would have wanted to get with. Other than that, I probably would have just stayed at home and worked on my golf game.”

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