Sports

Patriots defense, LB Dont'a Hightower hope to keep rolling against Chiefs

New England Patriots outside linebacker Jerod Mayo, right, hits a tackling dummy as he runs by while defensive end Rob Ninkovich (50) runs during a stretching session before practice begins at the NFL football team's facility Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014 in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots will play the Kansas City Chiefs Monday night in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

New England Patriots outside linebacker Jerod Mayo, right, hits a tackling dummy as he runs by while defensive end Rob Ninkovich (50) runs during a stretching session before practice begins at the NFL football team's facility Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014 in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots will play the Kansas City Chiefs Monday night in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)  (The Associated Press)

Dont'a Hightower and the New England Patriots defense have made great strides since their season-opening loss.

Their past two opponents totaled just one offensive touchdown. And the third-year linebacker had 15 tackles and two sacks in those two games.

Those were against Miami, Minnesota and Oakland, three teams with mediocre quarterbacks. The job gets tougher Monday when the Patriots (2-1) visit the Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) and quarterback Alex Smith.

But Smith will have to figure out where the versatile Hightower is coming from. He's solid against the running game and has unusual coverage skills for a 270-pounder. Smith also must watch out for defensive end Chandler Jones. Hightower and Jones each had eight tackles and two sacks two weeks ago.

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