Dane Fletcher, like Francis, joined the team as an undrafted free agent and he has become a shining example of what a developmental prospect can turn out to be.
A defensive lineman at Montana State University of the FCS, Fletcher was a player that joined the Patriots without anyone expecting much of him. Two years later he has become a competent linebacker who Bill Belichick will likely have no qualms about playing in the frequent absences of middle linebacker Brandon Spikes.
With Spikes dinged up and off the field, as I noticed he was after a skirmish with tackle Nate Solder at Wednesday night’s practice, Fletcher steps in and gets a chance to show off his athleticism and how much he has grown at the position.
He has already made plays in his limited opportunities, including a late sack, which may have single-handedly won them a game over Green Bay during his rookie season in 2010.
With Spikes always a question mark to stay in the lineup, this could be Fletcher’s year to take a big step forward in showing he can be a larger factor on a defense in the National Football League than he has been given the opportunity to show thus far in his career.