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Fletcher not keen on fading away
Redskins training camp report

 It's been only a week of practice, but veteran Redskins linebacker London Fletcher (59) has already been instrumental to first-round draft pick Ryan Kerrigan (far right).
Evan Vucci/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Date published: 8/4/2011

BY ZAC BOYER

ASHBURN

--London Fletcher has never missed a game in his 13 years playing in the NFL. Why, then, would he give any thought to doing so now?

"You think about it, but really, you just take it one day at a time," Fletcher said. "It comes to everybody. Nobody plays forever."

Fletcher, 36, has been one of the league's premier linebackers since breaking in with St. Louis as an undrafted rookie out of John Carroll, a Division III university just outside Cleveland. He was one of just two rookies to make the Rams that year, and he played all 16 games, beginning a streak that has continued since.

There were brief rumors after the end of last season that Fletcher would consider retirement, whether it be before this season or after it, when his contract enters the fifth and final year and he's due to make approximately $5 million.

But Fletcher doesn't like to think about walking away from football, which made discussion regarding the topic yesterday morning at Redskins Park difficult. He's the kind of player who, ideally, would play forever--and surprisingly, his body has cooperated.

Fletcher's preparations are meticulous and well documented. He studies film, knows his opponent's strengths and weaknesses, and is dedicated to his conditioning. When the lockout began, it was Fletcher who rounded up nearly half the Redskins under contract for a "mini-camp" in May.

"You don't find guys like London very often," coach Mike Shanahan said. "But the guys who have passion for what they do--he's unbelievable with his preparation, [leaves] no stone unturned and has some strong perseverance, as well.

"You talk about the things that you look for in people as a veteran player, and he has everything. It's one of the reasons why he's been in the league that long and he's played so consistently."

The 5-foot-10, 245-pounder led the Redskins with 136 tackles last season, second in the NFC and sixth in the league, and had 2.5 sacks--the most he's had in one season since 2004, when he was in Buffalo.

It might have been his contributions off the field, however, that were more important. Fletcher has helped his teammates adjust to a 3-4 defensive scheme, though the Redskins allowed 389.2 yards per game last season to rank 31st out of 32 teams.


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