After missing all of last season following the decision to opt-out for 2020, Dont’a Hightower is eager to show he still has what it takes to lead the New England defense.

Even if that means going through an old friend on the field to prove it.

Arguably the most anticipated game of the 2021 NFL regular season schedule is set to take place in Week 4 as the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Bucs are set to travel to Foxborough to take on the Patriots.

Of course, the biggest storyline heading into that game will be the return of Tom Brady to New England.

Brady’s return to New England is something Hightower is already anticipating.

“It’s going to be good to see 12 again,” Hightower recently said to the Boston Globe. “I’ve been going against him in practice for so long, I’m looking forward to playing against him.”

Considering their long friendship, does Hightower plan to take it easy on Brady?

No chance.

“Nah, you can’t do none of that stuff with him, man. He’s trying to throw touchdowns. In between the lines, it’s football. I’m sure he wouldn’t expect anything different.”