Redskins LB London Fletcher practices, streak might continue despite head, hamstring ailments

London Fletcher walked off the practice field with a slight limp and some upbeat news: He doesn't have a concussion, and his streak of never missing a game over 15 NFL seasons might remain intact after all.

The Redskins said Fletcher took part in the full workout Friday, one day after undergoing some six hours of tests for what coach Mike Shanahan has called a "balance issue." The 37-year-old linebacker is officially listed as questionable with head and hamstring injuries ahead of Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"I was encouraged by today," Fletcher said. "It felt good to get out there and run around. ... We've got 48 hours before the game. The body has a great way of healing, and just hopefully over the next couple of days I'll continue to improve."

Fletcher has never missed a game since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the St. Louis Rams in 1998, a remarkable run considering he has more tackles (1,865 including assists, according to STATS) than anyone else in the league during that span. His 231-game streak is the longest among active players, having moved one ahead of Tampa Bay defensive back Ronde Barber when the Buccaneers had their bye week earlier this month.

Fletcher injured his right hamstring in the second half of last week's loss to the New York Giants, and he told the team about his balance problem on Monday.

"I've been dealing with it for a couple of weeks now," Fletcher said. "But finally decided to tell them about it and kind of see if we could figure out what's going on."

While the tests ruled out a concussion, more will be needed to diagnose the cause of the balance problem. Shanahan mentioned the inner ear as a possible source.

"I'm not sure what it is — they're going to keep on testing it," Shanahan said.

Fletcher declined to say whether his current medical issue is connected to an undisclosed ailment that sidelined him for a few days during the preseason. At the time, Shanahan said Fletcher was "not feeling right," but neither he nor Fletcher has ever given any details.

As for his streak, Fletcher was modest when the subject was broached, saying he only thinks about it when asked by reporters.

"I've always taken in the mindset of: If I'm able to play a game, I'll play a game," he said. "It just kind of happened that it's been all the games, every game."

Shanahan said Fletcher was being perhaps too modest.

"For a guy to play that many games, you can guarantee that it means something," Shanahan said. "There's no question about it."

Notes: As expected, WR Pierre Garcon (right foot) and S Brandon Meriweather (left knee) have been ruled out for Sunday's game. ... Shanahan said he'll be judicious about how he uses TE Chris Cooley, who re-joined the team earlier this week. "You don't want to throw him in the briar patch too quick," the coach said.


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