Patriots

Versatile Fletcher draws high praise from Belichick

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Versatile Fletcher draws high praise from Belichick

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @dannypicard
FOXBORO -- Second-year linebacker Dane Fletcher could get some moreplaying time in the near future, now that Jerod Mayo is expected to miss an extended period of time with a sprained MCL.

On Monday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick commended Fletcher on theimprovements he made from his rookie season.

Belichicks obvious confidence in Fletcher most likely meansmore playing time in Mayos absence.

I think Danes taken a big jump from where he was lastyear, said Belichick. Last year he came in as really a defensive lineman, andmade an impact for us in the kicking game. At other points in the year, he didsome things situationally, on defense.

But this year, he came in and played inside linebackerright from the beginning of the year. Hes way ahead of where he was last year.Theres really no comparison. He had a good year of experience and hedefinitely built on that. Hes a smart guy. He works hard. Hes in goodcondition. Hes a good athlete. He runs well. Hes physical."

Belichick's a believer, obviously.

We have a lot of confidence in Dane, Belichick said. SoIm sure that whatever we ask him to do, hell try to do it. I have no doubtabout that.

Thats been evident over the last couple of weeks, as thePatriots have used Fletcher on the offensive side of the ball as well, makinghim the fullback in goal-line situations.

Dane kind of has a good feel for that, said Belichick.Its different, but similar to linebackers. Linebackers, youve kind of got tosee the hole. You dont want to fill where your guys are. You want to fillwhere theyre not, and fill in that space. And thats the same space therunning backs seeing.

Fletcher said he has slim to none experience on offense,but did say he played tight end in high school. Either way, hes willing todo whatever Belichick assigns.

If they tell me to go run my face into some people, Ill doit, said Fletcher. They tell you a certain thing, they want you to run in acertain direction and fill a hole, and hit somebody on the way. In a lot of thesame sense, its like linebacker. So far Ive been doing alright at it.

His presence on the offensive side of the ball may bringback memories of former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel, who was also used ingoal-line situations. But Belichick isnt ready to put Fletcher on that levelyet.

Youre talking about a guy who might have had the besthands on the team in that group when he was on the field, said Belichick aboutVrabel. Im saying, when Mike was on the goal line, offensively, all theplayers that were on the field, he probably had the best hands of anybody weput out there.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Adam Butler to Jalen Ramsey: 'Be humble or be humbled'

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Adam Butler to Jalen Ramsey: 'Be humble or be humbled'

FOXBORO -- The Patriots are well aware of Jalen Ramsey's Super Bowl prediction, and they're not about to take the same approach to the AFC title game buildup. 

"If you're going to make a statement like that," Patriots rookie defensive tackle Adam Butler said on Wednesday, "you better be able to back it up . . . It's a bold statement to make. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. But like I said, be humble or be humbled. That's all I can really say about that."

As that quote made the rounds, Ramsey tweeted an emphatic "WHO!???" Didn't seem to be a coincidence.

What Ramsey said, though, is part of who the Jaguars are. They're young. They're confident. They're not afraid to talk. 

"I ain't got too much to say, but y'all make sure you bring that same energy out here next week and the week after," Ramsey said in Jacksonville following his team's plane ride back from Pittsburgh on Saturday. "We're going to the Super Bowl and we're going to win that (expletive)."

Outside of Butler, the comments have garnered little in the way of public commentary from Patriots players. 

"I mean, obviously, that's his game," Patriots cornerback Eric Rowe said of Ramsey. "He's a confident dude . . . Obviously, they're happy to go to the championship game, but, you know, that mindset of thinking ahead of yourself, I don't think it's a good idea . . ."

"We saw what happened to the Steelers. But on our end, obviously, we're not thinking ahead to the [Super Bowl] because we have to get past [the Jaguars]. So, we heard it, but we're not too focused on it because we have to focus on doing our job for the game."

Jags coach jokes: Brady could 'probably throw left-handed'

Jags coach jokes: Brady could 'probably throw left-handed'

FOXBORO - Who knows if Tom Brady’s injured right hand is cause for concern? The quarterback reportedly injured himself on a botched handoff at practice Wednesday and was got X-rays to determine if there was a break. A source close to Brady said the 40-year old “should be ok,” but that’s hardly definitive. 

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This morning, the news was presented to Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone. He’s no dummy. 

“I’m sure he could probably throw left-handed if he has a problem with his right hand and throw just as well,” he said.  Marrone's Jags face the Patriots Sunday in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. 

Brady has missed a fair share of practices this year and been limited for a number of others. That hasn’t prevented the Pats QB from being the odds-on-favorite to win the NFL’s MVP. Patriot players didn’t notice difference yesterday, and if they did, they sure as heck weren’t sharing.

“He looked good, like he always does,” said Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

Eric Rowe added, “Shoot, I don’t know. He looked like Tom. He was doing the same stuff he always does.”

Brady is coming off a 35-of-53 for 337 yards and three-touchdown performance in the Divisional Round playoff game vs. Tennessee. 

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