Donnie Fletcher not dwelling on Combine snub

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Donnie Fletcher not dwelling on Combine snub

In the summer of 2011, the NFL lockout forced many eyes onto scouting the college crop earlier than usual. Boston College senior Donnie Fletcher ended up on multiple must-watch lists, citing his size (6-0, 199-pounds), fluidity, and ability to stop the run as reasons to pick him up in the 2012 Draft. The kid was on top of his game with a year left to play.

Fletcher suffered a back injury before the season even began.

He sat out just one game, BC's opener against Norwestern, before returning as a starter. But Fletcher didn't seem the same. His senior season stats -- 35 tackles, two interceptions, five pass breakups -- pale in comparison to those posted in an impressive junior campaign (58, five, three).

"Last year was a real humbling experience for me. I had to take kind of a back seat," Fletcher said Wednesday at BC Pro Day. "I was always the starter from freshman year, but once I got hurt I was on the sideline more, watching, not being able to play. I had to take more of a coaching to the younger guys in front of me."

Still, an invite to the Senior Bowl arrived in January. It was invite to the NFL Scouting Combine that never came. Fletcher doesn't deny the snub stung, but said he's using it as fuel.

"I was a little disappointed," he said. "Every year I look on NFL Network and see those DBs working out and end up seeing them go in the Draft. But when I didn't get the invite I was just like, 'I can only control what I can control,' and that's my Pro Day. I just took it as it came. I just worked a little harder; it gave me a little bit more motivation. I just try to take the positive out of what was given to me."

Fletcher spent time training at Fischer Sports Institute in Arizona. Three days a week he punched the clock, working out three times a day from 9-5. He got his 40-yard dash time down from 4.5 at his junior Pro Day, to a blazing 4.38 this year. The 17 reps he did on the 225-pound bench press are another point of pride.

At least one team has noticed his effort; Seattle will host Fletcher for a workout on April 9.

The cornerback hopes more phone calls will fill out the five weeks between now and the Draft. He hopes teams will watch film of his freshman and sophomore year coverage against guys like Hakeem Nicks, Golden Tate, and Torrey Smith.

Until then he'll continue to "work hard, stay humble." Just check his Twitter feed, you'll see the phrase repeated over and over as though determination and discipline will push him through.

Wednesday, a weary Fletcher smiled at the thought.

"That's my little motto. In this game it's easy for you to not be humble when you're given all these blessings. So I just try to work as hard as I can, but also stay as humble as I can throughout the whole process."

Curran: In the end, everyone stood because of the game

Curran: In the end, everyone stood because of the game

FOXBORO – The boos and demands to “Stand up!” rained down just as the Star Spangled Banner began. The players on the Patriots sideline who knelt – the ones boos and invective was directed at – stayed down. Others stood, locking arms with teammates while others stood with their hands over their hearts.

By game’s end, everyone was on their feet. Players. Coaches. Fans. Together.

Unless they left early because of traffic and a late Patriots deficit. Or because they couldn’t bear the thought of watching an NFL game on a beautiful September Sunday because the entertainers didn’t do what they wanted them to do before the performance began.

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The whole thing’s complicated. I understand why people take offense at those who don’t stand for the anthem.

I understand why others want to deliver a symbolic message about their American experience.

I completely understand why, two days after President Trump thought it appropriate to use the phrase “son of a bitch” to refer to someone making a silent, reflective statement, many NFL players felt challenged, backed into a corner and somewhat dehumanized. The message delivered was, in essence, “Shut up and dance.”

Personally, I prefer to stick to sports. I don’t think I’m equipped to talk politics because I don’t know policy, legislation, constituencies and special interests – all the things that I define as politics – well enough to drone on at anybody.

As for sociology – which is what this is about rather than politics – I have my experiences and others have theirs. I’m trying to mow my own lawn over here. You do you. I’ll do me. As long as you don’t encroach on me doing me while you do you, I’m fine. When I’m not completely self-absorbed, a respectful exchange of ideas can make me see things in a different light.

It didn’t surprise me some people at Gillette Stadium had a visceral and vocal reaction to players kneeling. The pot was brought to a boil all weekend, the lid was just lifted and it bubbled over.

But the irony of how the afternoon played out – that Brandin Cooks, a player booing fans were screaming at to stand three hours earlier brought them to their feet with his toe-tapping last-minute touchdown – was perfectly symbolic.

Ultimately, everyone was there for the football – the players, coaches, media and fans – and in the end it was the football that brought the unified response that stood in contrast to the divided reactions in the stands and on the field before the game.

“That’s what sports is,” said Patriots safety Devin McCourty. “That’s what sports does. That’s what makes them great. They bring out what we have in common.

“I don’t think people look at us as human,” McCourty said. “I don’t think they ever have. We’re just the entertainment. They don’t understand that there’s a human behind it. People want to shake your hand or have their picture taken with you but they don’t want to know you. That’s reality.”

Maybe. Or maybe people feel their voices aren’t heard. They don’t have a column they can write or a TV or radio show to spout off on. They don’t have the chance to demonstrate their individual feelings at their cubicle before the workday starts.

All they know is they spent $500 or more to get to and into with a belly full of steak tips and beer and they don’t need to feel like being reminded about somebody else’s societal oppression on their day off, thank you very much.

It’s not so much about who does what during the Star Spangled Banner as much as it is that a lot of people don’t appreciate the intrusion. That, and they’re tired of hearing how bad everyone else has it when it’s really no damn picnic for most people these days.

Believe me, there’s not unanimity of opinion in the Patriots locker room any more than there is in your office, home, dorm or neighborhood. Players of different races, backgrounds, economic circumstances and ways of expressing themselves are thrown in a pot together and told to work for a common goal and rely on each other.

The mish-mash of ways in which players responded during the anthem on the Patriots sideline, the reticence of some players to dip a toe in the conversation, McCourty’s opening statement at the podium and then his declining to take questions and Bill Belichick’s comment that he would “deal with that later” all seemed to indicate that the team itself is still working through how it expresses itself as a whole.

It’s complicated for them too.

But in the end, it was the football that bound them together. It was the game that left them jumping on each other and the fans standing and screaming and nobody thinking at all about who did what when the song played before the game.

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SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Redskins put it all together in prime time to rout Raiders

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SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Redskins put it all together in prime time to rout Raiders

LANDOVER, Md. - Kirk Cousins threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns, Chris Thompson had 188 all-purpose yards and a score and the Washington Redskins sacked Derek Carr four times and held the Oakland Raiders to 128 yards in a dominating 27-10 victory on Sunday night.

Cousins was a spectacular 25 of 30, including TD passes to Thompson, Vernon Davis and a 52-yarder to Josh Doctson. Thompson had 150 yards receiving and 38 yards rushing, joining Jamaal Charles as the only running backs to put up 150 yards receiving against the Raiders (2-1) since they moved to Oakland in 1995.

Thompson was again a difference maker and has four of Washington's seven offensive touchdowns this season. The Redskins (2-1), who piled up 472 yards, improved to 4-6 in prime-time games under coach Jay Gruden and tied the Philadelphia Eagles for first place in the NFC East.

Under pressure all night, Carr was 19 of 31 for 118 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Carr had thrown 112 consecutive passes before being picked off by Montae Nicholson on the second play of the game.

Oakland's rushing offense, which came in ranked fifth in the NFL, managed just 32 yards.

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