It has been a different sort of offseason for Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher, who underwent ankle and elbow surgeries. They were the first surgeries of Fletcher’s NFL career.
Fletcher’s recovery from those surgeries took him out of his normal offseason routine. But at Thursday’s offseason practice at Redskins Park, there was Fletcher back out on the practice field, even though he’d been told by Coach Mike Shanahan that he didn’t have to participate if he didn’t want to do so.
“The main challenge for me was, it was a different process in terms of preparing for offseason workouts,” Fletcher said following Thursday’s practice. “When you have played the game, you get into a routine. You get used to doing certain things at a certain time of the year. This was a different process for me. I was really chomping at the bit to get back in the weight room, get back on the field, cutting and running and doing some things that I’ve always done.
“I wasn’t comfortable in not being in a routine that I was able to continue. Once I was cleared in terms of there’s no restrictions, it was easy for me to get back out here because it’s something I’m used to. Coach said I didn’t have to. But this is what I do.”
Thursday’s practice, or organized team activity, was the second OTA of the offseason open to media members. Fletcher did not participate in the practice that was open to the media a week earlier, instead working on drills on the side.
Fletcher reiterated that he never came particularly close to retiring this offseason.
“It really wasn’t much of a consideration,” he said. “For me, really the last four or five years, I was just going over the process of really evaluating the game, myself, whether I want to continue to play. I don’t know why it got so much attention this year. I guess somebody happened to ask me the question and I expressed what my thought process was. But if you’d asked me the same question four or five years ago, you would have gotten the same answer that I gave you this year.
“It’s really just a year-to-year focus on letting some time [pass], getting away and making a decision from there. But once I knew that I was going to continue to play, I was just really worried about getting those surgeries done and really focusing on this year and trying to play the best football that I can play.”
Fletcher plays on. Meanwhile, it has been an offseason in which Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ronde Barber and Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher have retired.
“I haven’t talked to any of those guys,” Fletcher said. “Like I said, I’ve watched those guys for—Ray, he had a 17-year career, Ronde 16 years and Brian 13 years. So I know what they’ve been able to accomplish, how they’ve done it at a high level year in and year out without a dramatic drop in their play from early in their career to even at the end of their career. I just take hats off to them. I know those guys are probably enjoying retired life right now. But right now for me, I’m still enjoying playing the game. I’ve got more to give to this team, more to accomplish. I still can play.”
Fletcher said now is not the time for him to reflect on what he has accomplished.
“Right now as I’m involved in it, in the process of playing, you don’t really have time to focus on what you’ve done in the past,” he said. “It’s really about what I’m trying to do in the future, what I’m still trying to accomplish. I’m still trying to get better. I’m still trying to challenge myself to see how I can play at an even higher level. I can’t focus on the past.”
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