Patriots Notebook

Injured Fletcher is waived

LB could return if he's unclaimed

By Greg A. Bedard
Globe Staff / August 14, 2012
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FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots placed linebacker Dane Fletcher on waivers Monday, but his stint with the team likely isn’t over.

Fletcher, who tore the ACL in his left knee in Thursday night’s game against the Saints, was waived with an injury designation, along with receiver Britt Davis (shoulder).

Davis reached an injury settlement with the Patriots so he won’t be returning.

Fletcher can be claimed by any team, and if he clears waivers, he will go on injured reserve and not count against the Patriots’ roster limit.

It’s similar to how the Patriots landed tight end Jake Ballard from the Giants. New York figured no team would claim a player who was at least a year from playing because of knee surgery.

They were wrong. The Patriots claimed Ballard and assumed his contract.

The Patriots could lose Fletcher, who was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2010 out of Montana State, in the same manner.

Fletcher has been a special teams standout for the Patriots and the backup middle linebacker, where he made five starts last season.

“He’s played on first and second down, played on third down and played in the kicking game, so he has some versatility,” coach Bill Belichick said of Fletcher after the Saints game. “He’s had roles on different downs on different times or different game plans. So he’s done all of those things to some degree.”

The next day, Belichick said Fletcher “didn’t look good.”

“He’ll probably be out for a while, which is unfortunate because he’s worked hard, specifically this offseason and training camp,” Belichick said.

The Patriots could have taken the drama out the Fletcher situation and left him on the 90-man roster until Aug. 27, which is when the roster is cut down to 75 players.

But Belichick, who had 22 players not participate in practice on Monday, evidently didn’t think that was the wisest course.

Now the Patriots will wait to see if anyone claims Fletcher by the 4 p.m. deadline Tuesday.

The Giants are thin at linebacker in case they wanted revenge for Ballard.

Time to move on

After performances that bordered on disastrous Thursday against the Saints, left tackle Nate Solder and right tackle Marcus Cannon evidently got their marching orders.

Forget it and move on.

“You know what? We’re moving the Saints and moving on,” Solder said when asked how the tape looked the next day. “We’re here today working towards it.”

Cannon gave basically the same answer.

“You have to ask Bill,” Cannon said. “Coach is the one that does all the evaluations.”

They likely weren’t pretty.

Cannon allowed a sack, three quarterback hurries, and two knockdowns for a team-high seven quarterback pressures. Solder, who saw his first game action at left tackle after playing on the right side as a rookie, allowed three hurries.

“I think it was good to get out there and go through that full-game speed,” Solder said. “I don’t know whether it was a transition or whether it was just getting the season going again. So it’s a building process and we’re building on it one day after another.”

Left guard Logan Mankins, for one, believes Solder will replace Matt Light.

“I have a lot of confidence in Nate,” Mankins said. “Nate is one of those guys that’s going to do everything in his power to get better and to work hard. He’s always studying, always lifting, always running. If you’ve seen him, he’s in phenomenal shape and he’s a great athlete and he’s got the mind-set to work hard. He does what the coaches ask him; he does what older guys — the advice we give him — he takes it to heart and tries to do it. Nate is going to do a great job and we expect him to do a great job.”

Cannon struggled again, going 0-3 on Monday in one-on-one pass-rush drills against the defensive line. He also seemed to make a few mental mistakes in team drills, which drew the ire of offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.

Asked whether he likes that kind of tough love, Cannon said: “Scar’s a good coach. I don’t know, I’m not answering that question.”

Solder and Cannon are looking forward to this extended week of practices.

“The more time you get to practice, the better you get,” Cannon said. “Right now I’m just looking towards the next game, trying to do what I can right now to watch film, focus on what’s coming up next.”

Running in place

Belichick had a good line when he was asked if the days of a Patriots running back getting 300-plus carries are over.

Corey Dillon had 345 carries for 1,635 yards in 2004. BenJarvus Green-Ellis’s 229 attempts in 2010 were the closest since then.

“Corey Dillon was good enough to do it,” Belichick said. “If Corey Dillon of 2004 was on this roster, I’m sure he’d get it 300 times too. I haven’t seen Corey out there lately though. It’s too bad.”

Passing on Burress

The Patriots are expected to pass on signing free agent receiver Plaxico Burress, who worked out for the team Sunday, for now. The Patriots, like all teams, keep an emergency list in case of injuries. To that end, former Packers left tackle Chad Clifton is expected in sometime this week.

Greg A. Bedard can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @gregabedard.

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