Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower‘s status is in question for the start of the 2015 season.

Hightower is expected to be sidelined six to seven months following offseason surgery on his right shoulder, the Boston Globe reported on Thursday.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport originally reported Hightower’s labrum procedure in February. The linebacker was on the injury report since Week 14 with a shoulder injury.

The 25-year-old played through Super Bowl XLIX mostly with one arm.

Hightower was a key to the Patriots‘ run defense in the middle and tied for second on the team with six sacks. The third-year player finished second in Pro Football Focus’ rating for inside linebackers, despite only playing 12 games this season. His play was crucial to the Pats winning the championship.

Hightower missed two games in Week 5 and 6 due to a knee injury and played down the stretch with the shoulder injury. He also missed Week 14 and sat out Week 17, a meaningless game for the Pats.

Hightower should be commended for playing through the injury, the Patriots likely wouldn’t be Super Bowl champs if he hadn’t.

With Hightower sidelined and Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner wearing different uniforms; the Patriots‘ defense will enter training camp with questions at several positions.

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