2014 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

Miles AustinMar 30 11:42a

Free-agent WR Miles Austin (Browns) will likely sign with the Philadelphia Eagles this week if all goes well with his physical, according to a source.

R. Griffin IIIMar 29 07:42p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III will be the first-team quarterback during offseason workouts, according to head Jay Gruden, but Gruden also said he expects QB Kirk Cousins and [ More ]

Stevan RidleyMar 29 10:12a

Free-agent RB Stevan Ridley (knee) is scheduled to meet with a few teams this week. Ridley is expected to receive full medical clearance in around six weeks.

Andre EllingtonMar 27 07:52p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington, who averaged 20.6 touches per game in 2014 before being injured, won't have his role reduced in 2015, according to head coach Bruce Arians. [ More ]

C.J. AndersonMar 27 07:32p

Denver Broncos RB C.J. Anderson, who finished 2014 with 648 rushing yards in the last six games, will enter the 2015 season at the top of the running back [ More ]

Jonathan MartinMar 27 04:32p

San Francisco 49ers OT Jonathan Martin was claimed off waivers by the Carolina Panthers Friday, March 27.

Alan BallMar 27 03:02p

Free-agent CB Alan Ball (Jaguars) signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears Friday, March 27. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Jarrett BoykinMar 27 02:12p

Free-agent WR Jarrett Boykin (Packers) signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers Friday, March 27. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Nick FolesMar 27 01:22p

St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said it's the team's intention to draft a quarterback in this year's draft, despite trading for QB Nick Foles in the offseason. [ More ]

Dont'a HightowerMar 26 08:02p

New England Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder) will miss six to seven months after undergoing surgery on a torn right labrum. Hightower's availability for the beginning of the regular [ More ]

Brian QuickMar 26 06:52p

St. Louis Rams WR Brian Quick (shoulder) is making progress in recovering from a torn rotator cuff and separated shoulder he suffered last October. Head coach Jeff Fisher has [ More ]

Jay CutlerMar 26 06:32p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler will head into the offseason as the team's No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart, but head coach John Fox said there will be [ More ]

Danny LansanahMar 26 05:42p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Danny Lansanah signed his one-year tender Thursday, March 26.

Jonathan MartinMar 26 04:52p

San Francisco 49ers OT Jonathan Martin was waived Thursday, March 26.

Pat SimsMar 26 04:22p

Free-agent DT Pat Sims (Raiders) signed an undisclosed deal with the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday, March 26.

Victor CruzMar 26 01:32p

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) 'looks really good and light,' according to head coach Tom Coughlin. Cruz started running last week six months after he tore the [ More ]

D. Heyward-BeyMar 26 11:52a

Free-agent WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (Steelers) re-signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers Wednesday, March 26. Heyward-Bey signed a one-year deal with the team, but financial terms were not disclosed.

Paul RichardsonMar 26 12:43a

Seattle Seahawks WR Paul Richardson (knee) might not be ready for the start of the season, head coach Pete Carroll indicated Wednesday, March 25. Carroll did say Richardson's rehab [ More ]

Blake BortlesMar 25 08:43p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles received an endorsement from head coach Gus Bradley Tuesday, March 24. Speaking at the AFC Coaches Breakfast at the NFL Annual Meetings Tuesday, Bradley [ More ]

Travis KelceMar 25 06:03p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce played at roughly 250 pounds in 2014, but head coach Andy Reid wants Kelce to report bigger in 2015, and Reid thinks Kelce [ More ]

Drew BreesMar 25 05:03p

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota isn't an option for the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, according to head coach Sean Payton. Payton said [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 25 04:33p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is wanted back in Minnesota, but the question is if Peterson wants to come back. Head coach Mike Zimmer said he doesn't believe Peterson [ More ]

Ifeanyi MomahMar 25 03:13p

Free-agent TE Ifeanyi Momah (Lions) signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals Wednesday, March 25. Financial terms were undisclosed.

Terence NewmanMar 25 01:53p

Free-agent CB Terence Newman (Bengals) agreed to a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings Wednesday, March 25, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Jordy NelsonMar 25 12:23p

Green Bay Packers WR Jordy Nelson (hip) underwent hip surgery this offseason and is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks.

Victor CruzMar 25 11:53a

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) could miss the start of the 2015 season with a torn patellar tendon in his knee, according to head coach Tom Coughlin. [ More ]

Josh HillMar 25 11:03a

New Orleans Saints TE Josh Hill is expected to have a bigger role in the offense in 2015. Head coach Sean Payton has mentioned him quite a bit since [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 25 10:53a

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is disgruntled and reportedly wants out of Minnesota, but head coach Mike Zimmer said the team has no plans to trade him.

Cody LatimerMar 24 09:33p

The Denver Broncos plan to use WR Cody Latimer as the third receiver behind WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in 2015. 'I think it's time for him to [ More ]

Casey MatthewsMar 24 06:32p

Free-agent LB Casey Matthews (Eagles) agreed to terms with the Minnesota Vikings Tuesday, March 24. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

R. Griffin IIIMar 24 04:42p

Washington Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan said that the team will go with the best player available in the 2015 NFL Draft with the No. 5 overall pick, which [ More ]

Michael CrabtreeMar 24 03:02p

Free-agent WR Michael Crabtree (49ers) is having a hard time being signed this offseason, reportedly due to concerns regarding lower-leg injuries and a negative perception about his attitude.

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