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London Fletcher ‘Encouraged’ By Examinations, Return To Practice On Friday

By ZAC BOYER

zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

ASHBURN – London Fletcher went through a full practice for the Washington Redskins on Friday, his first of the week, and said he is “encouraged” by his progress and his ability to play at Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Fletcher

Fletcher revealed he has been dealing with what he and head coach Mike Shanahan have referred to as “balance issues” for several weeks, though it wasn’t until Monday that he decided to tell the coaching staff. He met with a neurologist for several hours on Thursday, and while Fletcher was told he is not battling the effects of a concussion, he would not share what the diagnosis was.

He was listed as questionable on the injury report on Friday.

“My body has a great way of healing, and hopefully, over the next couple of days I’ll be able to improve as far as everything that’s wrong with my balance,” Fletcher said. “I’ve been dealing with it for a couple weeks now, but I finally decided to tell them about it and kind of see if we can figure out what’s going on.”

That Fletcher, 37, practiced fully on Friday, without restriction, is a favorable sign for a linebacker looking to prolong his streak of playing in 231 consecutive games, which is tied with Tampa Bay safety Ronde Barber for the longest in the league.

“I’m not sure what it is,” Shanahan said. “They’re going to keep on testing him. Sometimes people think it’s the inner ear when they talk about balance issues, and that’s one of the reasons I said [Thursday] I’m not really sure if it is a concussion. When you’re talking about balance – the good thing about it is he is feeling a lot better. Why that occurred, I don’t think anybody knows for sure, but at least the test showed it was not concussion-related.”

Fletcher had also been battling a strained hamstring, though he wouldn’t say how much progress that injury, which forced him out of the third quarter of the Redskins’ loss to the New York Giants last weekend, had made.

The linebacker, who has made the Pro Bowl each of the last three seasons, signed what was essentially a two-year, $10.75 million contract to return to the Redskins in April. He had 166 tackles last season, the most in the NFL, and has 59 tackles through seven games, tying him for sixth.

His streak began with the first game of the 1998 season, when he made his first appearance with St. Louis as an undrafted rookie out of John Carroll, a Division III school near Cleveland.

“I’ve always taken the mindset that if I’m able to play a game, I’m playing in a game,” Fletcher said. “It’s always just kind of happened that it’s, you know, all the games, every game. That’s a really high standard. I love being out there with my teammates and I love being out there on the field playing football, and that’s just how I kind of approach it.”

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