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

Thaddeus LewisJul 22 10:33a

Buffalo Bills QBs Jeff Tuel and Thaddeus Lewis are alternating series with the second unit in team drills Tuesday, July 22.

Tyler BrayJul 22 09:13a

Kansas City Chiefs QBs Tyler Bray and Chase Daniel are likely to compete for one roster spot with QB Aaron Murray likely to make the team behind starting QB Alex Smith.

Navorro BowmanJul 22 12:13a

San Francisco 49ers LB NaVorro Bowman (knee) will likely return to action in Week 9 after the team's Week 8 bye, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.

Jacques McClendonJul 21 11:03p

Jacksonville Jaguars OG Jacques McClendon is the frontrunner to start at right guard heading into training camp, according to Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. OG Brandon Linder is the other candidate for the starting job.

Aaron ColvinJul 21 10:53p

Jacksonville Jaguars CB Aaron Colvin (knee) will begin training camp and the regular season on the Physically Unable to Perform list as he recovers from a torn anterior cruciate [ More ]

Jeromy MilesJul 21 10:03p

Baltimore Ravens S Jeromy Miles has seen some reps with the first-team defense this offseason and is a dark horse candidate to win the starting free safety job, according to ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley.

Brandon MosleyJul 21 09:43p

New York Giants OT Brandon Mosley will be given the first chance to start in place of OG Chris Snee when the first-team offensive line takes the field Tuesday, [ More ]

T.J. GrahamJul 21 09:23p

Buffalo Bills WR T.J. Graham had a pass fall through his hands after beating his defender on a deep route in camp Monday, July 21.ESPN.com's Mike Rodak believes Graham [ More ]

Sammy WatkinsJul 21 09:02p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins made several big plays in practice Monday, July 21, according to ESPN.com's Mike Rodak. Watkins beat CB Leodis McKelvin deep, hauled in a pass [ More ]

Marvin JonesJul 21 07:03p

Cincinnati Bengals QB A.J. McCarron (shoulder), WR Marvin Jones (ankle) and CB Onterio McCalebb (knee) have been placed on the Non-Football Injury list.

Devon StillJul 21 07:03p

Cincinnati Bengals OG Clint Boling (knee), LB Marquis Flowers (hamstring), P Kevin Huber (neck), WR Colin Lockett (hamstring), DT Zach Minter (back), DT Devon Still (back) and WR Ryan [ More ]

Cordy GlennJul 21 06:53p

Buffalo Bills OT Cordy Glenn (illness) does not have a timetable for his return at this point, according to head coach Doug Marrone. 'I don't know that. It's a [ More ]

Mike CaussinJul 21 06:43p

The Washington Redskins have signed free-agent TE Mike Caussin (Bills). Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The team also waived LS Kyle Nelson.

Cheta OzougwuJul 21 06:32p

New Orleans Saints DE Cheta Ozougwu (undisclosed) and DT John Jenkins (pectoral) have been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Brennan WilliamsJul 21 06:22p

Houston Texans OT Brennan Williams (undisclosed) has been waived with a failed physical designation.

Brian CushingJul 21 06:22p

Houston Texans DT Louis Nix (undisclosed), LB Brian Cushing (undisclosed) and LB Trevardo Williams (undisclosed) have been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Eric HaggJul 21 06:13p

Denver Broncos SS Eric Hagg has informed the team that he has decided to retire from professional football.

Dominique EasleyJul 21 05:23p

New England Patriots DT Dominique Easley, RB Roy Finch, LB Deontae Skinner and OT Chris Martin have been placed on the team's non-football injury list.

Alfonzo DennardJul 21 05:23p

New England Patriots CB Alfonzo Dennard (shoulder), WR Aaron Dobson (foot), WR Jeremy Gallon (undisclosed), DT Tommy Kelly (knee) and WR Matthew Slater (undisclosed) will begin training camp on [ More ]

Leon HallJul 21 05:12p

Cincinnati Bengals DT Geno Atkins (knee) and CB Leon Hall (Achilles') will begin training camp on the team's physically unable to perform list.

Jon BeasonJul 21 05:12p

New York Giants LB Jon Beason (foot) will begin training camp on the team's physically unable to perform list.

John JerryJul 21 05:02p

New York Giants OT William Beatty (leg), OG John Jerry (knee) and WR Mario Manningham (knee) will be limited when training camp starts.

Kraig UrbikJul 21 04:33p

Buffalo Bills OT Chris Hairston and OG Kraig Urbik saw first-team repetitions at right guard Monday, July 21.

Dezmon BriscoeJul 21 04:03p

The Dallas Cowboys signed free-agent WR Dezmon Briscoe (Redskins), according to his agent. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Phillip HuntJul 21 03:12p

Former Philadelphia Eagles DE Phillip Hunt (knee) has recovered from anterior cruciate ligament surgery and should begin workouts with teams in the near future.

Chris ConteJul 21 02:12p

Chicago Bears FS Chris Conte said he feels good as he recovers from shoulder surgery, but is unsure of his availability for the start of training camp. He could [ More ]

Alameda Ta'amuJul 21 01:53p

Arizona Cardinals DT Alameda Ta'amu (knee) and FS Tyrann Mathieu (knee) are candidates to be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list at the start of training camp.

David WilsonJul 21 01:42p

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) should be able to help the offense if he is able to stay healthy this upcoming season, according to former offensive coordinator [ More ]

Chris SneeJul 21 01:42p

Updating a previous report, New York Giants OG Chris Snee has officially announced his retirement from professional football.

Garrett CelekJul 21 01:22p

San Francisco 49ers TEs Derek Carrier and Garrett Celek will compete for the No. 3 tight end spot during training camp.

De'Anthony ThomasJul 21 01:22p

Kansas City Chiefs RB De'Anthony Thomas spent most of his time with the running backs during practice Monday, July 21. Thomas run a lot of passing routes out of [ More ]

Christopher OwensJul 21 01:13p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee), WR Kyle Williams (knee), WR A.J. Jenkins (hamstring) and CB Christopher Owens (hamstring) participated in practice Monday, July 21.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group