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Patriots.com News Blitz - 8/14/12

Greg A. Bedard of the Boston Globe reports that the Patriots placed linebacker Dane Fletcher and wide receiver Britt Davis on waivers Monday. Fletcher tore his ACL in Thursday night's preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints and is likely out for the season, while Davis injured his shoulder in the game as well. "Fletcher can be claimed by any team, and if he clears waivers, he will go on injured reserve and not count against the Patriots' roster limit," writes Bedard. The deadline for other teams to claim Fletcher and Davis is 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com reports that tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez did not practice on Monday along with wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. Reiss notes that the team "was without its two big weapons" with Gronkowski and Hernandez on the sidelines but that "it doesn't appear to be anything serious as both were spotted before the session." Reiss also observes that offensive lineman Logan Mankins was still not in full pads per an NFL rule that requires a three-day acclimation period before returning players can participate in full-pads practice.

Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe writes that offensive lineman Nick McDonald adds versatility to the offensive line in his ability to play multiple positions up front. McDonald has traditionally played offensive guard, but Young writes that he "added to his resume last week against the Saints by taking snaps at both tackle spots, as well as center." Young adds that head coach Bill Belichick believes McDonald could play all five offensive line positions. "There aren't many offensive linemen in the league that can play all five spots," says Belichick. "If he could do that, that would be very valuable to our football team."

Mike Rodak of ESPNBoston.com believes that center Dan Koppen is among the Patriots players who must distinguish themselves in the next few weeks to solidify their spot on the 53-man roster. Rodak writes that the Patriots appear to be more comfortable starting offensive lineman Ryan Wendell and Dan Connolly at center than Koppen, and that if "Brian Waters, who has not reported to camp, returns by the start of the regular season, the squeeze will be on for Koppen, who could be fighting for a roster spot." Rodak adds that Koppen's versatility is also an issue, as he has only taken reps at center so far in camp.

Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald writes that Jerod Mayo has a complex set of assignments as the team's top weak-side linebacker. "In coverage, Mayo could draw a slot receiver, a fullback or running back," writes Howe. "He could also draw a tight end in double-tight sets. Or, if the coverage roles to the strong side, Mayo could drop into a zone or blitz." Howe writes that Mayo performed these roles capably in Thursday night's preseason opener against the Saints, especially in the passing game, where he "clogged up the short-passing game" and was "in [Saints running back] Darren Sproles' ear with each matchup."

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