LB Fletcher leaves field with injury

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher left the field in the first quarter of Thursday's preseason opener against the Saints after being injured on a Patriots punt.

According to multiple reports, Fletcher suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. Such an injury would likely end Fletcher's season.

Fletcher had been running in pursuit of the punt, and after the play he remained on the ground before team medical staff surrounded him.

The third-year linebacker, who started in place of Brandon Spikes, appeared to be grabbing for his left knee. Two Patriots personnel helped Fletcher off the field and immediately to the locker room.

When the Patriots' defense returned to the field, rookie Dont'a Hightower, who started at strongside linebacker, moved to middle linebacker. He was replaced by veteran Bobby Carpenter.