New England Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher tore his ACL during training camp last year, but he is back and ready to go as a crucial member of the linebacker corps. Even though Brandon Spikes is striving to improve his coverage skills and prove that he is a three-down linebacker in this league as he heads into a contract year, Fletcher should still receive a solid amount of snaps and be a foil to Spikes in obvious passing situations and a quicker MLB who is more adept in coverage.
A major question regarding players following a severe injury is if their speed deteriorated due to the effects of the injury. Fletcher reportedly looked good in OTAs and minicamp, and I would consider him fully recovered and ready for quality snaps as a key backup linebacker for this squad after hearing Bill Belichick’s comments on him.
Belichick said, “Dane was out there all spring, he didn’t miss anything in the spring. I think his movement skills and speed and all those things are at a good level. We’ll start the contact process for him and the other veterans that just reported on Thursday, and so we’ll work through that part of it. So far, I don’t think he’s had any physical limitations to what we’ve done. But we’re starting another phase of that today.”
Fletcher is loved by the fan base, and he’s the kind of player who can hold an unheralded role on this defense as a backup linebacker who can make an impact in sub-packages and on special teams; it’s good to have Fletch back.