Reports out of the New England Patriots camp are that linebacker Dane Fletcher has torn his ACL. Fletcher suffered the injury during the Patriots 7-6 win against the New Orleans Saints in their first preseason game of 2012. The injury adds to a long list of injured or unavailable players that have hampered this team since the end of last season.
As defending AFC champions, the Patriots looked to be the favorites in the AFC going into the offseason. During the free agency frenzy the team was able to upgrade at several positions. Most significant of those signings was Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. But ever since the team has been set, they’ve continually been losing players in multiple ways.
One issue the Patriots have dealt with this summer is multiple key players considering retirement. The mass exit off the playing field began when Pro Bowl center Matt Light announced that he’d decided to retire. That was followed by news that Pro Bowl guard Brian Waters was contemplating retirement as well. He has yet to report to training camp.
The injuries that are a major concern to the Patriots are primarily on the offensive side of the ball. Guard Logan Mankins and tackle Sebastian Vollmer are currently on the physically unable to perform list. With already two retirements, one contemplating retirement, two currently injured, and one key lineman coming back from injury, the Patriots have had problems even getting enough offensive linemen to on the field.
Fletcher is the second linebacker to be injured for the team. During practice last week, starting middle linebacker Brandon Spikes took a cheap shot from left tackle Nate Solder. After a team brawl ensued Spikes was seen limping off the field. This was worrying for the Patriots with Spikes’ recent injury history and his recent offseason knee injury.
The New England Patriots went into the 2012 offseason as the team to beat in the NFL. With the start of the regular season fast approaching, they probably still are. However, injuries have been a continuing problem for the defending AFC champions. They can’t suffer many more of these injuries and expect to win Super Bowl XLVII.