The New England Patriots will have to overcome a big loss on defense after losing linebacker Dont'a Hightower for the season.

The former Alabama All-American suffered a torn pec during the win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night and will not be able to return in 2017 according to Hightower had already missed two weeks this season but seemed to be rounding into form after recording seven tackles and a sack against the Jets last week.

The Patriots sit atop the AFC East with a 5-2 record but there will be more concerns about the defense after this loss. The team started the season giving up an average of 32 points per game over the first four but allowed fewer than 14 points over the last three.

Hightower, a former first-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, signed a four-year, $35.5 million contract earlier this year.