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The Patriots were eaten alive in the middle of the field the last season, and drafting athletic linebacker Jamie Collins was supposed to help the problem. While Collins looked good playing in space against the Eagles, it's clear he'll have a learning curve trying to cover NFL receivers.
Against the Eagles, Brandon Spikes allowed one completion on one pass, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), and it went for 19 yards. Based on his role in practices and against the Eagles, it's becoming apparent that Spikes might not see any time in sub-packages this season.
After one preseason game, it seems like it might be Dane Fletcher who could be a potential solution to the linebacker coverage problem. Fletcher had the best coverage grade (1.9) and was the second-best rated Patriots defender, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Fletcher was thrown at four times and only allowed one catch for four yards while chipping in a team-leading four stops.
After one preseason game it appears Fletcher could be an intriguing option to pair with Jerod Mayo, though Dont'a Hightower certainly seems improved and might prove to be a three-down linebacker, reducing Fletcher to a potential specialized role against pass-catching running backs like Ray Rice.
A little specialization in your linebacker corps is okay, and the combination of Collins and Fletcher should help the Pats improve their coverage in the middle of the field.
After one preseason game, it looks like Fletcher might be the first to do so.