Frank Gore, Dont’a Hightower

New England Patriots outside linebacker Dont’a Hightower (54) knocks San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore (21) off his feet in the first quarter of an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) (Steven Senne)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Dont’a Hightower will miss his second consecutive game Sunday, as the New England Patriots have deactivated the starting linebacker due to a knee injury.

Hightower was on the field early going through tests on his knee, but it became clear that he wasn’t ready to go. He did some light jogging followed by a drill that required him to plant off his left knee and change direction. He lasted through only two reps before he and the training staff cut the drill off.

He joins Brandon Browner (ankle), Bryan Stork (concussion), Dominique Easley (shoulder), Cameron Fleming (finger), Nate Ebner (finger) on the inactive list. Rookie running back James White, who has played in just one game this season, is a healthy scratch.

Wide receiver Brian Tyms is set to make his debut with the New England Patriots. Aaron Dobson is also active for the second straight game.

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