Patriots' Hightower & Amendola out for Saints game

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The New England Patriots will be without linebacker Don'ta Hightower and wide receiver Danny Amendola as they bid to avoid an 0-2 start against the New Orleans Saints.

Both absences were expected, as neither Hightower (knee) nor Amendola (concussion/knee) practiced this week. Both players were injured in the defending Super Bowl champions' opening-week loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Amendola's absence leaves the Pats even thinner at wide receiver. They have already lost Julian Edelman for the season, and unless New England promote a practice squad player, they will head into the Superdome with just three healthy players at the position -- Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett.

In addition to Hightower and Amendola, special teams captain Matthew Slater (hamstring) and defensive lineman Vincent Valentine (knee) have also been ruled out for Sunday.