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Patriots Notebook

These opponents have gotten to know each other pretty well

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / September 18, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH - The Patriots have seen quite a bit of the San Diego Chargers in the last five seasons.

The teams aren’t in the same division, but between regular-season matchups and postseason contests, they’ve become familiar foes. Today’s game will be the sixth meeting since 2007.

In that span, the Patriots are 4-1, with two of the victories coming in the playoffs, in 2007 and 2008.

Last October, the Patriots survived a late push by the Chargers to claim a 23-20 win at Qualcomm Stadium.

“It seems like we play these guys almost every year,’’ sad Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork. “They’re a hell of a ball club. Every game is a battle against them, going all the way back to 2004 when I was a rookie.

“You definitely remember playing these guys and it always seems like it’s going down to the wire.’’

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and his offense are expected to be quite a challenge for a Patriots defense that allowed 488 yards to the Dolphins in last Monday’s 38-24 season-opening victory.

Wilfork said he thinks of Rivers as a defensive player who can trash talk with the best and give credit when it’s due.

“I always compare him to a defensive player because he’s not a typical quarterback,’’ Wilfork said. “He’s so fiery. He gets up in your face. He gets his team going and they rally around him.

“I always respect that. When I see a quarterback going out and having fun like he does, I just smile because I can see a lot of defensive player in him with the attitude he has.’’

Full effect Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher played fullback a couple of times at Montana State. It wasn’t anything he took seriously at the time, and he didn’t expect to play it again in the NFL.

But against Miami Monday night, Fletcher came in at fullback twice in the red zone. He was targeted for a pass once but didn’t come up with the catch.

“I’m just taking advantage of whatever I can do to get on the field,’’ said Fletcher, who is in his second season.

He knows the role comes with responsibility.

“In college, I was asked to play it for two plays in my last game, but it was more of a joke,’’ he said. “Now, it’s my job, so it’s serious.

“It’s cool, and I like it. It’s something extra to do.’’

Bledsoe reflects Former Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe describes his life after football as “pretty normal’’ these days. He coaches flag football, plays golf, and makes a little wine here and there.

Yesterday, Bledsoe returned to Foxborough to remember the days before “normal,’’ as he and former center Jon Morris were honored as the newest members of the Patriots Hall of Fame.

Morris played 11 seasons (1964-74) for the Patriots and was voted in by the 10-person senior selection committee in March.

Bledsoe, who played nine years with the Patriots, said he continues to be proud of the team.

“You look around here now and all that’s happened and where it’s gone,’’ he said. “When you’re part of something, you hope that while you’re part of it you make it better, and then when you leave, you hope whoever follows you picks up and takes it to higher and better places.

“And that certainly has been the case here under the stewardship of the Kraft family, with Tom [Brady], with Bill [Belichick], they just have taken this franchise to heights that were unimaginable in 1993.’’

Morris and Bledsoe were introduced to members of the 2011 Patriots during the team’s walkthrough yesterday morning.

Shalise Manza Young of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com.

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