Patriots’ Dane Fletcher suffers torn ACL

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The season has ended as soon as it started for Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher.

Fletcher left tonight’s preseason game against the Saints with a knee injury early in the first quarter, and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that the injury is a torn ACL. He suffered the injury while running down the field covering a punt and was helped off the field by the medical staff.

After signing with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2010, Fletcher has become a solid backup linebacker and special teams player. He started tonight’s game at inside linebacker in place of Brandon Spikes.

After Fletcher left, rookie linebacker Dont’a Hightower moved to the inside and Bobby Carpenter replaced Hightower at strong side linebacker.