Opening day countdowns are great. So are player profiles. Here at Musket Fire, we decided to combine them and create a Week 1 countdown-oriented, jersey number-dictated player profile series. Yesterday, we looked at No. 59 Chris White, and the day before that it was No. 60 David Andrews. Because today marks 58 days until the New England Patriots open 2015, we are profiling No. 58, linebacker Darius Fleming.
Taken in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, Fleming has traversed an incredibly unlucky start to his NFL career. Literally minutes into his first rookie minicamp session, the Notre Dame product tore his ACL, ruining his first NFL season. 14 months later, he tore the same ACL once again in training camp, wiping out Fleming’s 2013 season.
After yet another long rehabbing period, Fleming was spurned by the 49ers in May of 2014, and it looked like his NFL career was over. But the Patriots hauled him off the couch later that month, and Fleming made the most of his third training camp, ending up on the practice squad.
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In late November, Fleming was called up to the active roster for the first time in his career, recording a pair of tackles and a recovered fumble in the three regular season games he suited up for. The Patriots were glad to have him make those contributions, but you can bet that Fleming was beyond elated to keep his NFL dream alive.
Entering 2015, Fleming should be viewed as a likely candidate to make the 53-man roster. He’s come so far since those ACL nightmares, and the Patriots could really use a bruising linebacker like Fleming in a depth role.
In case you missed them, here are the profiles for No. 61 Marcus Cannon, No. 62 Ryan Wendell, No. 63 Tre’ Jackson, No. 64 Chris Barker, No. 65 Jordan Devey, No. 66 Bryan Stork, No. 67 Josh Kline, No. 68 Caylin Hauptmann, No. 69 Shaq Mason, No. 71 Cameron Fleming, No. 72 Joe Vellano, No. 74 Trey Flowers, No. 76 Sebastian Vollmer, No. 77 Nate Solder and No. 80 Danny Amendola.
Since there are currently no holders for the No. 57 or the No. 56 jersey, this series will be taking a few days off. But be sure to check back on Musket Fire Friday morning as we celebrate 55 days until Week 1 by profiling No. 55, linebacker Jonathan Freeny.