Thumb injury sidelines Fletcher

TAMPA -- Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher came out of Thursday night's game against the Buccaneers with a thumb injury and will not return, the team announced.

Fletcher, one of the stars of the team's preseason opener, came out of the game after just two plays.

That thinned the Patriots' linebacker corps, pushing Niko Koutouvides and Tracy White -- two special-teams players -- into first-half action.