Redskins’ London Fletcher still going strong entering 16th training camp


London Fletcher returns for his 16th NFL season. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

As he kicks off the 16th training camp of his NFL career and the final season of his current deal with the Washington Redskins, linebacker London Fletcher said that he isn’t worried about his future. Fletcher’s only concern: Helping the Redskins get back to the playoffs following last season’s 10-6 campaign, which ended with a wild-card loss to Seattle.

Training camp is nothing new for the NFL’s iron man, but Fletcher’s enthusiasm was evident Wednesday, the day before his team’s first practice of the year.

“I feel great,” said Fletcher, who has healed from offseason elbow and ankle surgeries and looks to extend his consecutive-games-played streak to 241 games and beyond. “This time of the year, most guys get excited, grass starts to smell a little bit different because you know football season is right around the corner, and for me, I’m excited to be here, feel good.”

For the first time since he came to Washington six seasons ago, the Redskins have moved away from their Ashburn headquarters for training camp. Fletcher welcomed the move to Richmond because he remembers how getaway training camps benefited the St. Louis Rams and Buffalo Bills, teams he played for during the first nine years of his career.

“I was kind of looking forward to this: going away,” Fletcher said. “I think it bonds your team – going away instead of staying home and practicing, because during your free time, guys anytime you get free time, they might run home to do things. But now, because we’re here in an environment where we’re forced to spend more time together, guys might get a meal together and bond and spend more free time together. I think that’s going to allow our football team to gel.”

The 38-year-old Fletcher hasn’t allowed himself to wonder if this will represent his final training camp. And he doesn’t view playing in the final year of his contract as a more vulnerable situation.

“Really, in the National Football League, you’re always in the last year of your contract. It’s just the nature of the business,” Fletcher said, and then with a laugh added: “I’ve scratched and clawed my whole career. I came in as an undrafted free agent, so I was in the last year of my contract 16 years ago, if you think about it. It’s not something I spend a lot of time thinking about. I’m focused on this season, and the rest will take care of itself.”

Fletcher concedes that at this point in his career, he may not be as fast as he once was. But he explained that his understanding of the game expands each year, and that his experience helps him compensate for any physical limitations. But durability – or concerns about it – don’t enter Fletcher’s mind.

“It’s just something where you get up every day and go to work and don’t think about it,” Fletcher explained. He later was asked a familiar question: the secret to his longevity.

His reply: “God blessed me with some good genes, a little bit of dumb toughness, too, probably.” Fletcher laughed and continued: “It’s a lot of different things. But really the main thing I look at is not really wanting to let my teammates down and being honest with myself and wanting to be out there on the football field with them. So if I feel good enough to play, I play.”

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag.

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What’s ahead:

The Redskins practice today at 10 and 3:20. Players talk to reporters after the first practice, and Shanahan does so after the afternoon session.

More from The Post on the NFL and Redskins:

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Cousins fine as Griffin’s understudy, playing training-camp lead role

At the podium: Griffin, Fletcher speak at opening of training camp

Our complete guide to training camp in Richmond

No doubts about Robert Griffin III (video)

Post TV: Biggest non-RGIII storylines as camp approaches

Jenkins: Shanahan and Griffin keep it honest so they’ll know when to dial it back

D.C. Sports Bog: RGIII and Mike Shanahan, in each other’s words

Wise: RGIII the celebrity heads back to work

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.

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Mike Jones · July 25, 2013