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Dont'a Hightower progressing with shoulder rehab

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower walked off the field after the first day of training camp with a big smile on his face and dripping with sweat.

After the Patriots won the Super Bowl with a victory over the Seattle Seahawks last February, Hightower needed shoulder surgery. The offseason plan was to have the procedure as soon as possible in order to give himself a chance to be ready for the season opener on Sept. 10. The original diagnosis was that he’d be sidelined six to seven months.

He has been pushing his rehab with the help of team trainer Jim Whalen and it proved crucial since Hightower was able to participate in the first day of training camp at the practice facility at Gillette Stadium.

“Everything’s going in the right direction, so it was a good day to chalk this one up in the books,” he said.

There’s still no timetable when he’ll be cleared for full contact and game action.

“Right now I just feel good where I’m at,” Hightower said. “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.”

Even though he was not on the field for minicamp, Hightower was still able to attend meetings and stay in contact with the team in preparation for the start of training camp on Thursday.

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

Earlier this month, Hightower said he was a little ahead of schedule with his rehab and said he was motivated to play in the team’s first game of the regular season.