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The Boston Globe

Sports

Special teams success is path to bigger role for Patriots

Players must earn chance to play in kicking game first

FOXBOROUGH - The list of players who paid their dues on special teams is a long one.

Dane Fletcher was a long shot to make the Patriots last year as an undrafted rookie free agent. He learned that the fastest way to make an impression was as a specialist, so he raised his hand at every chance: kickoff coverage, kickoff return, punt coverage, and punt return, the “big four’’ of special teams.

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