NFL

Dont'a Hightower's shoulder rehab going well, right on track

January 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; New England Patriots outside linebacker Dont'a Hightower (54) in the first of the game against the Denver Broncos of the 2013 AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

January 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; New England Patriots outside linebacker Dont'a Hightower (54) in the first of the game against the Denver Broncos of the 2013 AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots' season ended with a spectacular Super Bowl victory, but following the win, one of their star defenders was forced to have shoulder surgery. Dont'a Hightower played through the injury in the postseason, but had his shoulder surgically repaired in March.

The timetable for his return was originally six to seven months, but he appears to be rehabbing well and could play Week 1.

"Everything's going in the right direction, so it was a good day to chalk this one up in the books," Hightower said. "Right now I just feel good where I'm at. I'm making strides in the right direction. Jim is pushing me and I have all the right people in my corner. It's going to be a day-to-day thing."

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Hightower was on the field for training camp, which shows how well his rehab is progressing. He said his goal is to play in Week 1, and that he is slightly ahead of schedule, according to ESPN. For now, he's just happy to be back on the field.

"It feels good to actually get back to football and not be at track practice," he said.

(h/t ESPN)