Fletcher likely to fill in for Pats LB Spikes

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 7, 2014 at 6:05 pm •  Published: January 7, 2014
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"Spikes has done a great job this year," safety Devin McCourty said, "being a guy that's been a leader on the defense, a guy that's stepped up and made key plays, I think, like he's always done, but really stepping into a leadership role. But now it's 'next man up' and being ready to go."

That figures to be Fletcher.

"Every play matters. Every second you're in there matters," he said. "It could be one problem play that costs your whole team so you don't want to be that guy. So it's just kind of that time of the year where everything amps up in every aspect of the game."

New England has played most of the season with three of its best defensive players on injured reserve. Tackle Vince Wilfork played the first four games, tackle Tommy Kelly played the first five and linebacker Jerod Mayo played the first six.

The Patriots did well enough without them to earn a first-round bye.

But will the latest injury be one too many?

"I hope not," McCourty said with a laugh.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org