FOXBORO, Mass. — With Jerod Mayo lost for the season, it’s another case of “next man up” for the Patriots at linebacker.
Jamie Collins has received the most snaps as a reserve linebacker, though many have assumed fourth-year linebacker Dane Fletcher will get a heavier workload Since he’s only played 12 snaps on defense this season, Fletcher said he doesn’t know how much the defense has changed since he last played extensively in 2011.
“Shoot, I wouldn’t know. I haven’t played defense this year,” Fletcher said. “I’m a special teams guy right now. That’s kinda how I’d put it. So, I just gotta harness my energy on that.”
Fletcher has played a different role this year as a defensive tackle at the goal line and in short-yardage situations. On Wednesday, he joked his teammates call him “the praying mantis” at practice while he plays that role. At 240 pounds, he said it’s all about speed and trying to shoot the gaps.
“I mean, it’s definitely different,” Fletcher said. “It’s a different technique, it’s all different. They asked me to do it, it’s one of those thing you gotta do. Especially when you’re low on D-linemen and all that.”
Friday is a busy day around the locker room with bags being packed and all the players around. Here are some other pieces of note:
-Jake Bequette and Marquice Cole had black practice player of the week jerseys. On Thursday, Rob Gronkowski and Matthew Mulligan had those jerseys.
-Danny Amendola had a bag packed in front of his locker, though it was missing a helmet. Amendola briefly walked through the locker room with his hood up while talking on the phone. He declined to talk to reporters.
-Aqib Talib also had a bag packed. His did have a helmet and shoulder pads in it. Talib practiced on Friday, though it would be a bit of a surprise if he played on Sunday.
-Gronkowski told the media he wished he could talk, but he wasn’t allowed to. That must be Bill Belichick‘s orders. Gronkowski’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, texted many reporters saying the tight end has been cleared by doctors to play.
-Mark Harrison has not been spotted in the locker room for a while. His folding chair has been leaning against his locker for days.
-Devin McCourty and Rob Ninkovich have been named captains after Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork were placed on season-ending injured reserve.
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