London Fletcher received good news Thursday that might help him live up to his reputation as the NFL’s Iron Man.
The Washington Redskins’ defensive captain fully participated in Friday’s practice after extensive neurological testing Thursday ruled out the possibility that his balance problems are related to a concussion. He is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers because of the balance issues and a right hamstring strain.
If he plays, he would extend his consecutive games played streak to 232, the longest in the NFL.
“I was encouraged by today,” Fletcher said after Friday’s practice. “It felt good to get out there and run around. Still another 48 hours before the game day, so hopefully I keep improving.”
The cause of Fletcher’s balance problems remains a mystery, although a concussion was ruled out.
“They’re going to keep on testing him,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “Sometimes people think it’s the inner ear when they talk about balance issues … but at least the tests showed it’s not concussion-related.”
If Fletcher is not hindered by balance problems in the next 48 hours, he will test his hamstring before Sunday’s game. Shanahan was encouraged by how Fletcher’s hamstring seemed in practice.
“He’s got to feel comfortable because you can’t go out there if you’ve got balance issues and play,” Shanahan said. “Everybody knows that. Relative to the hamstring, I can’t tell you until 48 hours from now or close to it when he works out before the game and tries to push it harder than he did today.”
Fletcher, 37, acknowledged Friday that he has been battling these balance problems for a while.
“As far as everything that’s going on with my balance, I’ve been dealing with it for a couple weeks but finally decided to tell them about it and see if we could figure out what’s going on,” he said.
Shanahan insisted he has not noticed a difference in Fletcher’s play this season. Fletcher has made the Pro Bowl as an alternate each of the last three years.
Neither Shanahan nor Fletcher would talk this week about the time Fletcher missed in August because he was “not feeling right,” as Shanahan said at the time. He missed practice on Aug. 16 and the preseason game two days later against Chicago.
Fletcher would not say his balance problems are behind him.
“I’m not going to get into all the details of it,” Fletcher said. “It was something I felt needed to be looked it.”
Fletcher isn’t focusing on extending consecutive games streak. His top priority is being on the field for his team against Pittsburgh.
“The body has a great way of healing,” he said. “Hopefully over the next couple days I’ll continue to improve.”