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.
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