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Shanahan: Rest Fletcher To Keep Healthy


Throughout his career, linebacker London Fletcher has shaken off minor injuries, continuing to play each week (243 consecutive games) and earn the start (203 striaght games).

Last season was particularly trying for the Washington Redskins captain, as he dealt with a concussion, vertigo and an ankle injury in Week 11 that hampered his ability to practice for the rest of the season.

While the streak of games played and started was important to Fletcher and the coaching staff, the team also needed Fletcher's presence in the lineup.

After the season, Fletcher made the decision to return and got ankle surgery--the first surgical procedure of his career--to ensure that he would be healthy coming into training camp.

Three weeks into the regular season, the Redskins coaching staff is also taking precaution to make sure he stays healthy this season, spelling him on snaps with veteran free agent addition Nick Barnett vs. the Lions.

"We feel very good about London but we want to keep him healthy," explained head coach Mike Shanahan on Monday. "We want to keep him fresh. We think Nick [Barnett] is doing a good job, too."

Barnett is one of only three active players in the NFL with more than 1,000 career tackles (1,032), joining Fletcher and Lance Briggs at that illustrious benchmark.

Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has long admired the intensity that Barnett brings to the table, as well as his versatility to play either inside linebacker position.

"Nick is full of football. He's got great football instincts. He knows where to go, he flies around," Haslett said after Barnett's signing. "He has great quickness, intensity, understands the game. He's got a great nose for the ball."

Already in limited snaps this season, Barnett has three tackles playing in place of Fletcher in the middle of the defense.

"The thing about him, he plays fast. He's aggressive," Haslett said. "If he does make a mistake it's going to be 100 miles an hour."

And all of this is part of the plan for Shanahan and Fletcher, as the defense will benefit from having another experienced linebacker in the fold.

"To be honest with you, we've been talking about giving London a few plays off," Shanahan explained. "We don't want to overwork him, especially with the offenses we go against nowadays with the hurry-up and the no-huddle. I'd like to give him a few more plays off, not to just wear him down.

"That's what happened [Sunday]. I think he got a few [plays off] in the second half. I was hoping that Nick [Barnett] would get a few in the first half, but we're trying to keep London at 100 percent and we don't want to set him back at all."




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