Redskins linebacker London Fletcher said that he expects to continue to share playing time with backup Nick Barnett for the duration of the season, and that he believes that plan will help him remain more effective throughout games.
Fletcher – the league’s active Iron Man, having played 243 consecutive games – has previously very rarely left the field during games. But on Sunday, the 16th-year veteran watched from the sidelines for a total of eight plays – during a stint in the first quarter and again early in the third quarter. Barnett, himself an 11th-year veteran and starter for his entire career before signing with Washington this season, took his place.
Fletcher said of the shared playing time, “I decided to take myself out. … It was my game plan.”
But Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said on Monday, “To be honest with you, we’ve been talking about giving London a few plays off. We don’t want to overwork him, especially with the offenses we go against nowadays with the hurry-up and the no-huddle,” Shanahan said. “I’d like to give him a few more plays off, not to just wear him down. That’s what happened yesterday. I think he got a few in the second half. I was hoping that Nick 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.”
Fletcher, who the week before had struggled to shed blocks and recorded only one solo tackle and one assist while playing all 72 defensive snaps – most of them no-huddle, said that he should have taken himself out of a portion of each of the first two games.
He said “being a guy that wants to learn from his mistakes,” he willingly made way for Barnett. He added, “It may be like that the rest of the season.”
Fletcher said, “I wanted to play 100 percent, 100 miles an hour the whole ballgame and it’s tough to do that if you’re going to play 100 percent of the snaps also. Just being smart about it, knowing, hey, I’ve got a veteran guy here who’s been a starter, Nick got some reps in practice so he felt comfortable in the scheme, felt comfortable with what we were doing against Detroit so it made sense to give him some playing time and I felt fresher.”
Fletcher, who on Sunday had eight tackles and a sack, continued, “I understand that I’m not 24, either. Even young guys, whether you’re – how old you are … if you want to be 100 percent, 100 miles an hour to the football, you’re not going to be able to go that mind-set 60 minutes. It’s impossible to do it. I wanted to be able to run to the football better and do a lot more things than I was able to do in the first two ball games, so if that means I’ve got to give Nick a few snaps, it helps me, helps us. Basically, helps us win a ball game. I’ll do it. They’re not giving out trophies for playing all the snaps. We’re judged on wins and losses.”
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