Perillo: Fletcher may see expanded playing time

Perillo: Fletcher may see expanded playing time
January 10, 2014, 6:30 am
Share This Post

A defensive lineman in college, Dane Fletcher never got the reps necessary at inside linebacker to master the spot.

(USA Today Sports Images)

The injuries and bad breaks keep continuing for the Patriots even when they are not playing.

After spending last weekend watching the Wild Card games, the Patriots received some bad news on Tuesday when Brandon Spikes was placed on injured reserve due to a knee injury.

Spikes absence leaves a void in stopping the run, which will lead the Patriots to play more of Dane Fletcher and rookie Jamie Collins.

“Obviously, they lost Brandon Spikes for the season, he’s not going to be able to play, and I think the Patriots can go a couple of different ways with this,” said Paul Perillo on Patriots Football Weekly. “First of all, I don’t think the Colts are a heavy run team. So, I’m not sure you are going to need a base defense all that often. But, if they do go base, is it Dane Fletcher out there? Is it Dont’a Hightower moving to the middle? Do they even use a guy like Rob Ninkovich as a linebacker instead of defensive end? I think Jamie Collins is going to play no matter what. To me, the interesting guy is Fletcher. He could see an increase to his load.”

With the defensive line and linebacking group depleted, the Patriots will need to receive some help for their secondary. Alfonzo Dennard is expected to play, after being inactive in Week 17 against the Buffalo Bills, and he could play a crucial role.

“I think with T.Y. Hilton this is going to be a very important matchup because you might need everybody, not just Talib, to shut him down,” Perillo said.