Patriots’ Fletcher finds renewed love of game, learns how to be better player during year of rehab

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FOXBOROUGH — It was exactly one year to the day.

On Aug. 9, 2012, Dane Fletcher fell to the turf while covering a punt in the first quarter of the Patriots’ first preseason game, against the Saints. He knew almost immediately: he’d torn his left anterior cruciate ligament. His season, which was to be his third in the NFL, was over.

On Aug. 9, 2013, Fletcher was back on the field, this time against the Eagles, covering the opening kickoff.

He survived. And that’s when he realized he was back.

“It was a big milestone after that first preseason game, just to prove to myself that I’ve still got it,” Fletcher said after practice this week. “I went out and did exactly what I wanted.’’

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