Aug 9, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher (52) is helped off the field as they take on the New Orleans Saints during the first quarter of the preseason game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Saints 7-6. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE

Dane Fletcher Injury: Patriots Linebacker Suffers Torn ACL On Thursday

Dane Fletcher's season likely came to an end before it even began,as the third-year linebacker suffered an ACL tear during the New England Patriots' 7-6 victory over the New Orleans Saints in their preseason opener on Thursday evening.

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Dane Fletcher Injury: Patriots Linebacker Suffers Torn ACL

New England Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher is likely out for the season. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that the third-year player suffered a torn ACL while covering a punt during the first quarter of Thursday night's preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints.

Fletcher stayed on the ground clutching his knee after the play, and had to be helped off the field into the locker room by medical staff. He started the game at middle linebacker in place of Brandon Spikes, who is recovering from a knee injury of his own. Dont'a Hightower slid over from the strongside to compensate Fletcher's absence, and Bobby Carpenter filled in for Hightower on the outside.

The punt came off the Pats' first offensive possession of the game, and wound up not counting thanks to a Saints procedure penalty.

For more on Fletcher as well as Patriots Preseason 2012 coverage, follow our stream and visit Pats Pulpit.

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Dane Fletcher Injury: Patriots Linebacker Hurt Covering Punt, Leaves Game

New England Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher left Thursday's night's preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints after suffering an apparent knee injury while covering a first quarter punt. He remained on the ground after the play, grabbing at his left knee, and had to be helped off the field into the locker room by medical staff.

To offset the loss, the Pats moved rookie Dont'a Hightower to the middle from his starting spot at strongside linebacker. Bobby Carpenter entered the game from the sideline to take Hightower's spot.

Should Fletcher miss significant time, it would be a big blow to the Pats' depth chart at linebacker. The third-year player started the game in place of Brandon Spikes, who is out while recovering from a knee injury.

There is no word yet on Fletcher's long-term status.

For more on Fletcher as well as Patriots Preseason 2012 coverage, follow our stream and visit Pats Pulpit.

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