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News & Notes: Fletcher Gets Off To a Fast Start

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Monday morning, DeAngelo Hall was told that London Fletcher had amassed 18 tackles in Sunday's 23-17 loss to the New York Giants.

"Wow," he responded. "I knew he was flying around and hitting guys."

Fletcher's tackle total, to be sure, is a testament to his smarts as a middle linebacker and nose for the ball. Players and fans alike continue to wonder why Fletcher has been a yearly snub for the Pro Bowl.

Thing is, Redskins coaches don't expect Fletcher to be involved in so many tackles in the defensive game plan.

It usually means that the opposing offensive line is clearing rushing lanes and that running backs are routinely getting through the defensive line. It also means that the defense had trouble getting off the field on third downs.

"Something isn't right when your middle linebacker is making 18 tackles," Hall said. "Hats off to him, but we can't have that."

Fletcher agreed.

"When you get up to that many tackles, it can be a bittersweet type of deal," Fletcher said. "When you get 10-12 tackles, 15 at most, you usually win those football games. But when you get up to 18 tackles, oftentimes those aren't very good situations."

Fletcher, appropriately enough, was in on the first play of the game when he tackles wide receiver Mario Manningham after a 3-yard reception.

Later in the drive, after the Giants had driven to the Redskins' 12-yard line, Fletcher joined with Chris Horton on holding running back Brandon Jacobs to a 1-yard gain on a 2nd-and-2 play.

Next play, Fletcher and LaRon Landry stopped running back Ahmad Bradshaw for no gain, forcing the Giants to settle for a field goal.

Later in the first quarter, the Giants were in scoring range again at the Redskins' 5-yard line.

On 2nd-and-3, Fletcher recorded a solo tackle on Jacobs after a 2-yard gain. Then, on 3rd-and-1, Fletcher and Hall combined to hold Jacobs for no gain.

The Giants opted to go for the first down instead of a field goal, and Albert Haynesworth stuffed Jacobs for no gain on fourth down.

While the Redskins' short yardage defense was effective, the unit yielded 6-of-13 third-down conversions.

Most troubling of all, the Giants converted 3rd-and-7, 3rd-and-6 and 3rd-and-9 plays.

"Those are favorable situations for the defense to be in and we need to get off the field in those situations," Fletcher said. "It gives the ball back to our offense. But if we allow that first down, the field position game doesn't go the way we want it to. Time of possession--those things all come into play, too.

"That was one of the things Coach Blache talked about last Wednesday--to beat the Giants we have to be good on third down. We weren't good on third down."

Fletcher and the Redskins' defense gets back in action in Week 2 against the St. Louis Rams.

Fletcher played for the Rams from 1998-2001 and he emerged as a standout at middle linebacker for the so-called "Greatest Show on Turf" in St. Louis.

He started for the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV, a game they won 23-16 over the Tennessee Titans.

Fletcher played four seasons with the Rams before moving on to Buffalo in 2002. He played for the Bills for five seasons and then signed with the Redskins as an unrestricted free agent in 2007.

Asked to reflect on his tenure with the Rams, Fletcher said the Super Bowl season remains a "special memory."

"We had a great group of guys," he said. "What we were able to accomplish, in a three-year run, was phenomenal. We played an exciting brand of football. We loved playing with each other and we loved coming to work. I still have the memories and I still think about it from time to time."


-- HAYNESWORTH EXPECTATIONS

When a player the size of Albert Haynesworth is on the field, it certainly draws attention.

And when he is off the field, it draws attention, too.

Haynesworth was on the sidelines in some situations on Sunday as the Redskins implemented their defensive line rotation.

Coaches are still evaluating Haynesworth's game day workload as they get to know the 6-6, 350-pound defensive tackle.

"I wish he would play 100 percent of the time at 100 percent speed, but he weighs 350 pounds," Jim Zorn said. "He is a load. And I think moving that much mass can kind of take it out of you.

"We'll figure that out a little bit more as we go along. I wasn't displeased with the type of plays or the amount of plays he had on the field. I'm looking all the time for him to push it.

"When I don't see him in there, everybody else is picking up the slack."

On the first play of the second quarter, Haynesworth was slow to get up after tackling Brandon Jacobs on a 4th-and-1 play.

"He got the wind knocked out of him, that's all," Zorn said.

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