2015 DRAFT GUIDE
Patriots LB Fletcher progressing after surgery

By HOWARD ULMAN - AP Sports Writer
    2013-08-20 17:36

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Football and Dane Fletcher didn't seem like the best match.

Hockey was his first choice. He didn't get drafted in the NFL. He spent all last season on injured reserve with the New England Patriots after hurting his knee in the first quarter of the first exhibition game.

There were times when the light at the end of his long rehabilitation tunnel seemed pretty dim.

``It always seems like that,'' Fletcher said. ``Finally, I see the light and it's exciting just to get back on the field again.''

Healthy once more, the second-string middle linebacker will play in his third exhibition game Thursday night against the Lions in Detroit. And he has a better idea of what to look for after having plenty of time to study film while recovering from surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

``I just dedicated myself to stay positive, stay motivated and take as much as you possibly can out of it when you're not on the field,'' Fletcher said. ``I probably learned a lot more about the game than I probably would have known if I was out on the field.''

Fletcher isn't about to replace Brandon Spikes as the starting middle linebacker. But he could contribute on passing downs since Spikes specializes in stopping the run. Fletcher also is a solid special teams player - and it was on special teams that he sustained his injury.

It happened against the New Orleans Saints on Aug. 9, 2012 as he was running to cover a punt.

``I knew right away,'' Fletcher said. ``Now I'm so focused on the now and I'm just excited.''

In this year's opening exhibition game, Fletcher played 37 snaps on defense, the second most of any Patriots linebacker, in a 31-22 win over the Eagles in Philadelphia. He had four tackles on the night. Last week, he was on the field for only 12 snaps in s 25-21 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but made three tackles.

``While everybody else was playing, he was working hard in the weight room and rehabbing,'' coach Bill Belichick said. ``He had a full spring (to work out). Fortunately for this year, the injury occurred early last year so he had almost a full calendar year to rehab it.''

But hockey was Fletcher's main sport before college. He even played for the Bozeman Icedogs of the American West Hockey League in his home town. Then he snared a football scholarship to Montana State and turned into a star defensive end as a senior when he led the Big Sky Conference with 17 1/2 tackles and seven sacks.

``A Montana kid, I'm sure, growing up in the country and killing ox or moose or whatever he was doing to eat dinner,'' Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich said with a smile, ``I'm sure that makes him pretty tough.

``Any time there's an obstacle in his way, he attacks that.''

Despite his strong college career, Fletcher was bypassed in the 2010 draft. A few days later, the Patriots signed him and started converting him to linebacker.

He has 51 tackles in 23 games over two seasons but he's still adjusting to that position.

``One of my main focuses this year was to work on my pass coverage and really nail that down,'' Fletcher said. ``I feel like I've been doing well and (there's) always room to improve.''

Being overlooked by all 32 teams in the draft may have motivated him.

That same snub drove Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington, who was undrafted out of Hofstra in 2008 but tied for the NFL lead with seven interceptions in 2011.

``It's just a natural chip just placed on your shoulder as far as not being overlooked, not really getting this opportunity you always felt like you deserved,'' Arrington said. ``It's one of those things that make you work harder to prove yourself.''

Fletcher is doing that. And he isn't worrying about his surgically repaired knee anymore.

``It was a big milestone after that first preseason game just to prove to myself that I've still got it,'' he said. ``I forgot how much I loved the game.''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

LeSean McCoySep 2 01:43p

Updating an earlier report, Buffalo Bills RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring) may not be in great 'football shape' once Week 1 rolls around, according to a source. He's not at [ More ]

LeSean McCoySep 2 12:43p

Buffalo Bills RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring) seems to be in some danger of missing the season opener Sept. 13. 'Well we certainly expect him to be ready to go, [ More ]

EJ ManuelSep 2 11:33a

Buffalo Bills QB EJ Manuel is expected to remain on the team as the backup quarterback. There is growing expectations that QB Matt Cassel will be cut.

Matt CasselSep 2 09:23a

Buffalo Bills QB Matt Cassel could be cut by the team, as they are internally discussing the option.

Joseph RandleSep 2 08:33a

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle could have 10-15 carries per game with RB Darren McFadden slightly below that, in the opinion of beat writer Drew Davison

Travis CoonsSep 1 11:03p

Cleveland Browns PK Travis Coons edged out PK Carey Spear, winning the battle for the placekicking job. 'Yeah, it was close. I thought both guys handled themselves very well, [ More ]

Nick ToonSep 1 07:43p

New Orleans Saints WRs Nick Toon, Lance Lewis and R.J. Harris were released Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Randall CobbSep 1 06:23p

Green Bay Packers WR Randall Cobb (shoulder) thinks his sprained right shoulder will be good to go to play in Week 1 against the Chicago Bears in 12 days. [ More ]

James ButlerSep 1 05:53p

Green Bay Packers WR James Butler and TE Harold Spears were released Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Julius ThomasSep 1 05:23p

Jacksonville Jaguars TE Julius Thomas (finger) will undergo surgery on his injured finger Wednesday, Sept. 2, according to a source. Thomas is expected to miss four to five weeks.

Zac DysertSep 1 05:13p

Free-agent QB Zac Dysert (Broncos) was claimed by the Chicago Bears Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Tom BradySep 1 05:03p

Updating a previous report, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will know his fate by the end of this week. Judge Richard Berman said he will issue his decision and order by that time.

Matt BlanchardSep 1 04:53p

Green Bay Packers QB Matt Blanchard was released Tuesday, Sept. 1, according to a source.

Juron CrinerSep 1 04:32p

New York Giants RB Akeem Hunt (hamstring) was waived/injured Tuesday, Sept. 1. WRs Juron Criner and Derrick X. Johnson and TE Will Tye were also waived.

Robert HerronSep 1 04:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Robert Herron was waived Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Phil TaylorSep 1 04:23p

Cleveland Browns DT Phil Taylor was released Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Junior HemingwaySep 1 04:12p

Kansas City Chiefs WR Junior Hemingway was waived Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Michael HillSep 1 04:12p

Dallas Cowboys RB Michael Hill (undisclosed) was waived/injured Tuesday, Sept. 1. WRs Antwan Goodley and David Porter and TE Brandon Barden were also waived.

Travis KelceSep 1 03:03p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (ankle) would be able to play if the Chiefs had a game Tuesday, Sept. 1, according to head coach Andy Reid. Kelce is recovering from an ankle sprain.

Jarrett BoykinSep 1 03:03p

Carolina Panthers WRs Jarrett Boykin and De'Andre Presley were waived Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Jace AmaroSep 1 01:33p

New York Jets TE Jace Amaro (shoulder) will have season-ending shoulder surgery and will be placed on the Reserve/Injured list.

Erik LorigSep 1 12:33p

New Orleans Saints FB Erik Lorig was cut Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Nathan PalmerSep 1 11:53a

Denver Broncos WR Nathan Palmer was waived Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Devonta FreemanSep 1 11:32a

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman was the most active in practice Monday, Aug. 31, that he was been since a hamstring injury Aug. 6. It's unclear whether he'll play [ More ]

Jarrett BoykinSep 1 10:33a

Carolina Panthers WR Jarrett Boykin was released Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Jalen SaundersSep 1 09:13a

New Orleans Saints WR Jalen Saunders is being traded to the New England Patriots Tuesday, Sept. 1, for a conditional draft pick, according to a league source.

Caleb SturgisAug 31 11:32p

Miami Dolphins PK Caleb Sturgis remains the front runner in his competition with PK Andrew Franks. Sturgis said he did not have a good early camp, 'but I've been hitting the ball better lately.'

K. ThompkinsAug 31 07:52p

Oakland Raiders WR Kenbrell Thompkins was released Monday, Aug. 31, according to a source.

Trent RichardsonAug 31 07:22p

Oakland Raiders RB Trent Richardson was released Monday, Aug. 31, according to a source.

Josh BoyceAug 31 06:42p

New England Patriots WR Josh Boyce and TE Jimmay Mundine were released Monday, Aug. 31.

E.J. GainesAug 31 05:52p

St. Louis Rams CB E.J. Gaines (foot) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Monday, Aug. 31. WR Damian Williams was subsequently released.

Travis KelceAug 31 05:32p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (leg) left practice early Monday, Aug. 31, because of a right leg injury. Kelce was able to walk off the field but did not return to practice.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group