Dane Fletcher Talks Starting, Talib

April 23rd, 2014

New Bucs LB Dane Fletcher

Back at the NFL Owners meetings, Lovie Smith said he primarily signs free agents who can be starting players, in part, because that’s what good free agents want to know when they are being recruited. These guys want playing time.

Lovie sees newcomer and former Patriots LB Dane Fletcher as one of those guys.

The Bucs are excited about Mason Foster and what he can deliver in his contract year, but Fletcher has plenty of talent and Lovie has said he’s a middle linebacker, among other roles he can fill. Hardy Nickerson is on record praising Fletcher’s versatility.

Joe met Fletcher yesterday and asked whether he came to Tampa to be a starter.

“I felt like this was by far my best opportunity to play and contribute on defense and really earn a role and help this team succeed. I really respect Lovie and his coaching style and the defenses that he’s brought up in the past, so you know, that brought me here pretty quick,” Fletcher said.

Joe also asked Fletcher to tell fans what his strengths are on the field.

“I like to really study the game, and really understand what teams are trying to do against me. My speed with quickness and strength,” Fletcher said.

Interestingly, Fletcher did not want to talk about playing for Bill Belicheat. However, Fletcher was happy to share his impressions of his former teammate in New England, helmet-wielding, cabbie-slugging, Adderrall-popping, coach-cussing, referee-charging, pistol-friendly, granny-hassling Aqib Talib.

“Aqib was great. I really liked playing with Talib. He was smart, great corner to be a part of on the defense with. He was a character. He was hilarious. I liked him,” Fletcher said.

Joe will be keeping an eye of Fletcher and Foster. No, Joe wouldn’t bet against Foster, but Joe believes Fletcher has a legitimate shot. He earned a lot of respect in New England and played well coming off an ACL injury last season. Bucs fans have learned how hard that is to do.

7 Responses to “Dane Fletcher Talks Starting, Talib”

  1. biff barker Says:

    Might as well put it out there that Foster’s style of play has exposed him to nagging injuries Joe.0 Strong starter yes, but plays seems to play hurt in the back end of the season.

  2. You Go Joe Says:

    Fletcher is a special teams guy also. Well maybe Lovie does plan on keeping Fletcher and not Mason Foster if foster has a “meh” season. Though last year foster was a pick 6 miracle worker.

  3. Brandon Says:

    Fletcher is quite a bit faster than Foster. Foster ran a very ordinary 4.75 40 at the Combine, while Fletcher really impressed, running in the high 4.5’s. From what I hear, Foster has lost weight, most likely to improve speed, but Fletcher is already a little heavier than Foster and far faster. He is closer to being the Urlacher-type freak that Smith wants in the middle.

  4. CountryBuc Says:

    I wonder though, say Flethcer did beat out Foster for the Mike, would Lovie move Foster over to start on the strong side and have Casillas as depth. I don’t see it playing out that way but it’s a legit question.

  5. Cobraboy Says:

    I’ve never understood all the love that Foster gets. He’s an OK MLB, but a Hardy or Shelton Quarles he’s not.

    I always thought him…and much of the Bud D for the last number of years…as a bit slow. I don’t believe “slow” or “not-fast” is going to play well in what Lovie expects of his LB corp…

    Foster is NOT a guy who will drop to the deep middle on passing downs like Hardy & Quarles. No way. IMO, that’s why he brought Dane into Tampa: he’s more of a Tampa-2 MLB than Foster.

  6. MR.T Says:

    There will be a number of interesting competitions going on with the MLB spot being one of them. A lot to watch this year as the “new” Bucs take shape.

  7. owlykat Says:

    Thanks for printing Foster’s speed. He is a tough LB but there is no way he can cover the deep middle in Tampa Two, and you definitely do not want Flethcher being the only person who can play a Tampa Bay MLB. What if he got hurt? Lovie needs to bring in Mad Max from Michigan State to start and have Fletcher back him up and be our Special Teams ACE.