Things Don't Look Good For Patriots LB

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots' Dane Fletcher's season may be over minutes after it began. After staring the game at middle linebacker, Fletcher was helped off the field with a leg injury. Reports indicate that ...

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots' Dane Fletcher's season may be over minutes after it began.  After starting the game at middle linebacker, Fletcher was helped off the field with a leg injury after a special teams play in the first quarter.  Reports indicate that he may have a season-ending knee injury.

One player who saw more action as a result of Fletcher's absence was free agent pickup, Bobby Carpenter.

"Dane's been a great guy, he's really helped me a lot," Carpenter said after New England's 7-6 over the Saints Thursday night. "We've got a really tight knit linebacker room and he's a tremendous guy and a really good player. Hopefully he'll be alright."

Unfortunately, reports indicate that the injury may be serious.  The NFL Network reported that Fletcher tore his ACL.   

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was not optimistic about Fletcher's return.

"The news on Dane [Fletcher] doesn't look very good, so he'll probably be out for a while," Belichick said via conference call Friday. "[The Injury] is unfortunate because he's worked hard, specifically this offseason and training camp."

While not ruling out Fletcher for the season, Belichick opted not to predict the possibility of a return this year.

"I'm not trying to speculate on his injury," Belichick explained. "I just think that he's going to be out for a while; we'll see exactly what that means. I don't know."

Rookie Dont'a Hightower, Carpenter and Tracy White could all see action in the linebacker rotation depending on how the team rolls out its defensive coverage.  Fletcher was filling in for Brandon Spikes, who has been recovering from offseason knee surgery.  

While Carpenter is expected to get the call if Spikes is out and Fletcher is lost for the season, the job is still up for grabs according to Belichick.

"We've had good competition at the position so it we'll have to look for somebody else to step in but it's unfortunate for Dane."

Fletcher started five games for New England last season, recording 32 tackles and a forced fumble.  He was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Montana State  April 29, 2010.


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