Dane Fletcher waived by Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots waived injured linebacker Dane Fletcher and wide receiver Britt Davis on Monday, according to an NFL source.

Fletcher, who injured his knee in the preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints, would revert back to the team's injured reserve list if he goes unclaimed. Coach Bill Belichick said last week that Fletcher "might be out for a while" and that "it doesn't look very good."

Fletcher projected as a top backup linebacker for the Patriots this season, as well as a core special teams player. He played in 22 percent of the defensive snaps last season. After Fletcher sustained the knee injury in the preseason opener, Belichick said, "It's unfortunate because he's worked hard. He had a really good offseason and training camp."

Earlier this offseason, the Patriots claimed injured tight end Jake Ballard on waivers from the Giants. It's possible another team could see promise in Fletcher and do the same, perhaps with the 2013 season in mind.

The club reached an injury settlement with first-year receiver Davis, who scored the lone touchdown in Thursday's preseason opener against the Saints, a game in which he sustained a shoulder bruise. Davis was expected to be sidelined for 2-3 weeks.

This means the league's other 31 teams can claim Davis on waivers. In the event Davis goes unclaimed and doesn't hook on with another team, the Patriots could sign him after the sixth week of the regular season, per NFL rules.

Davis, who initially joined the Patriots' practice squad on Jan. 4, 2012, was one of the bigger targets in the team's receiving corps (6-foot-3, 215 pounds). In Thursday's preseason opener, he also showed up in the running game with some solid downfield blocking.

By waiving Fletcher and Davis, the Patriots open up two roster spots. With injuries at various points on the roster, the Patriots might feel they need the spots for other players.