A person familiar with the situation says the New England Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower will miss Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Chargers and is facing season-ending surgery on his right shoulder.
The surgery will be for a torn pectoral muscle, the person told The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity Thursday because it has not yet been announced by the team.
Hightower left Sunday's win over Atlanta in the second half with the shoulder issue and sat out the first practice of the week on Wednesday. He's missed two games this season with a knee injury.
It comes as a blow for a Patriots defense that has improved in recent weeks, but continues to rank last in the NFL in total defense giving up 426.7 yards per game.
Hightower has 14 tackles and two sacks on the season. In March he signed a new four-year deal worth $35.5 million.