Patriots-Panthers inactives: Harris out; Hightower, Cannon, Rowe in


FOXBORO -- Dont'a Hightower, sidelined since Opening Night, is active for Sunday's Patriots-Panthers game, as is offensive lineman Marcus Cannon and defensive back Eric Rowe.

It should be interesting to see where Hightower aligns in the Patriots defense. Will he play on the edge as he did in Week 1? Or will he take his place in the middle of the field and serve as the unit's primary communicator? It could be argued that defensive communication is one of the team's foremost weaknesses through three weeks of the season, and placing Hightower back in that area of the field could help resolve some issues. 

Cornerback roles for the Patriots will be in focus on Sunday as well. In Week 2, when the Patriots took on a pair of tall receivers, Rowe was a starter and Malcolm Butler found himself demoted to the No. 3 role. Will the story be similar as the Patriots prepare to take on Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess? Or will Butler remain a starter after a strong Week 3 performance against the Texans? 

Patriots rookie tight end Jacob Hollister is also active Sunday. He was a late add to the injury report with a knee injury, but he tested it out under the watchful eyes of team medical personnel, as well as Bill Belichick, and was given the OK. Brandon King, another late add to the injury report on Friday, is inactive. 

One noteworthy inactive player for the Patriots is veteran linebacker David Harris. He has found himself down the depth chart for Patriots linebackers, behind Hightower, Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts, and he doesn't play special teams. Add it all together, and if the linebacker unit remains healthy moving forward, his game-day status will probably continue to be tenuous. 

Here's the full Patriots' inactive list for today's game vs. Panthers:

T LaAdrian Waddle
WR Matt Slater
RB Rex Burkhead
OL Cole Croston
LB David Harris
LB Harvey Langi
S Brandon King

The Panthers' inactives:

WR Curtis Samuel
DE Daeshon Hall
CB Daryl Worley
C Ryan Kalil
OT John Theus
QB Brad Kaaya
DE Bryan Cox


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