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Cam Fleming gets the job done on offensive line

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Patriots offensive lineman Cam Fleming has appeared in four games this season at three different positions.Winslow Townson

FOXBOROUGH – Cam Fleming is one smart cookie.

The Patriots versatile offensive tackle majored in aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford and had hopes of being an astronaut one day.

Instead, he's making his living protecting Tom Brady, which makes sense. After all, aeronautics is the science or practice of travel through the air, and who knows more about air travel than Brady?

Fleming started at right tackle and played every snap in New England's 33-13 win over the Browns Sunday as Brady threw for 406 yards – his eighth career 400-yard day.

Fleming, who was filling in for Marcus Cannon (calf), has appeared in four of the five Patriots games at three different positions. He started at left tackle in Week 1 for Nate Solder (hamstring) and Weeks 2 and 3 as the jumbo tight end.

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"Cam has done a good job for us and he's one of our most dependable players. He's very smart and he works extremely hard,'' coach Bill Belichick said of the 6-foot-6-inch, 320-pounder. "For his size he works very hard on his conditioning and he really doesn't get tired, or at least it doesn't seem like he does. He's right at the top of his group in sprints and works hard in the weight room, both on strength and flexibility and does a lot of extra things to try to continue to improve. I think he's quiet, but he's probably one of the most respected players on the team because of his work ethic and his toughness and his dependability.''

Fleming appreciated the shout out but downplayed the difficulty of playing multiple positions.

"It's always good to get compliments no matter who they're from but of course coach Belichick is a great person to get a compliment from,'' said the soft-spoken Fleming, who credited offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia with helping him "get better and improve each week and each day."

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Asked if his Stanford education helped with his football preparations, Fleming, whose space traveling days ended because he is just too tall, couldn't help but laugh.

"I'd like to think it helps a lot,'' he said. "But I don't know.''

Photo opportunity

Many of the Patriots took pictures at the Jim Brown statue outside FirstEnergy Stadium following Sunday's victory and Monday Belichick spoke fondly and highly of the former Browns legend.

"Well, I think honestly any person, football player or otherwise, can learn a lot from Jim Brown and what he represents and what he stands for,'' said the coach. "But particularly as it relates to our football team, Jim Brown's in my opinion the greatest player that ever played.''

The coach was also nostalgic talking about the franchise's first coach and the city of Cleveland.

"Honestly, I wish Paul Brown's statue would've been right there with it because then we could have knocked out two birds with one stone,'' he said. "Paul Brown's name is up there. Obviously, that's who the franchise is named for and his name is up there on the stadium as part of the players that are recognized on that ring of honor there in the stadium.

"It's a little special quirk for me when you think of Paul Brown, and you think of Jim Brown, and the Cleveland Browns who were named for Paul Brown and being in that stadium, not because I was the coach there, but because of what Paul Brown and Jim Brown did for professional football in that city. It's a special place in my heart.''

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Browns claim Cooper

The Browns claimed guard Jonathan Cooper, who was released by the Patriots on Saturday. Cooper, who was acquired from Arizona in the trade for Chandler Jones in the offseason, hurt his foot early in training camp and never really got into the mix even after he recovered. He was inactive for every game this season . . . The Patriots worked out three players Monday: receiver Donteea Dye, running back Austin Johnson, and tight end Gannon Sinclair . . . Special teams captain Matthew Slater may have ripped off the line of the season so far when he was asked about Brady saying he "feels better at 39 than he did at 29" during his appearance of WEEI Monday. "Old Benjamin Button hasn't slowed down yet.'' . . . Per the team and Nielsen, the Patriots game broadcast against the Browns was the highest-rated program in the Boston market again this week, the fifth time in five games that this has been the case this season. The broadcast on Channel 4 was the top-rated non-prime-time game of the season for the Patriots, earning a 35.5 household rating along with a share of 66.


Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.