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Dane Fletcher tears ACL in Patriots' preseason opener

New England Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the first quarter of Thursday night's 7-6 preseason victory over the New Orleans Saints, according to a source with knowledge of the player's condition.

Fletcher had 32 tackles in 10 games last season for the Patriots. The third-year pro started Thursday night's game at inside linebacker.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said after the game that he would wait for doctors' evaluation of Fletcher, but he said the linebacker was a key contributor to New England's defense.

"He's played on first and second down, played on third down and played in the kicking game, so he has some versatility," Belichick said. "He's had roles on different downs on different times or different game plans. So he's done all of those things to some degree."

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

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