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.