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As Favre ails, Fletcher's hits 200 with Redskins

ASHBURN, Va. -- First of all, London Fletcher doesn't buy the notion that Brett Favre could miss a game.

"Favre's streak ain't coming to an end. That ain't no real fracture," the Washington Redskins' middle linebacker said. "I think that's a little bit of gamesmanship on Minnesota's side, a little bit of posturing. He'll be out there."

OK, but let's suppose Favre's injured left ankle -- fractured in two places, according to the Vikings -- does keep the 41-year-old quarterback from playing Sunday against the New England Patriots.

That would end Favre's streak of consecutive games played at 293, the NFL record among non-specialists. Favre also has started a record 291 in a row.

Without Favre in the lineup, Fletcher would then become the new No. 1 in consecutive games played among active players.

And it just so happens that Fletcher, who has never missed a game in his 13 NFL seasons, will hit No. 200 this weekend. The double-century comes when the Redskins visit the Detroit Lions.

"Two hundred straight? That's an amazing number for any linebacker," Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. "I didn't know it was that many, and you add the total plus the production and what he's done. To me, that's big time."

Fletcher won't have the top spot to himself for long. He is one game ahead of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and Buccaneers cornerback Ronde Barber, whose teams already have had their bye weeks this season. Manning and Barber will tie Fletcher when the Redskins get the week off following the Detroit game.

With all due respect to quarterbacks Favre and Manning and cornerback Barber, the Redskins note that it's more remarkable to keep going game after game when playing in the middle of the defense. Fletcher once said every tackle is like a car accident -- and he's made far and away more tackles than any player in the league since 2000.

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"The quarterback, they're not really getting hit that often," Fletcher said. "They don't have to do any running, things like that. For a linebacker, it's harder for a guy to be able to play each and every week."

Fletcher had one game for the St. Louis Rams in 2000 in which he played but wasn't in the starting lineup, so his streak of consecutive starts stands at 158, trailing Favre (291), Manning (198) and Barber (173). Still, it's quite a run.

"I really don't think about it a lot," Fletcher said. "It's just something that I do. God gave me great genes, so to speak. A fair amount of toughness, I would say. And I don't want to let my teammates down, so I couldn't imagine not being out there with them."

Fletcher's name has appeared on the weekly injury report only 14 times in his entire career -- some players are on the list 14 times in a season -- and he has come close to missing a game just twice, once with a foot injury in 2008 with the Redskins and once with a hamstring injury with the Buffalo Bills in 2005.

"In Buffalo, that was basically a game-time decision," Fletcher said. "It was one of those things where, 'Can you go?' I said, 'Well, I can give it first and second down.' And I ended up having to play the whole game."

Fletcher is 35, but he's in impeccable shape and appears set to keep playing for a while. The team's defensive captain, he finally made the Pro Bowl for the first time last season.

"If you have a London Fletcher on your team, you're in pretty good shape as far as a head football coach," coach Mike Shanahan said. "He is a natural leader; he is a worker. Puts all the responsibility for performing on himself. He prepares as well as anybody I've been around."

"If you have too many guys like that, then you wouldn't need coaches," Shanahan added with a laugh, "so I'm glad we don't have too many of them."

Fletcher's streak is especially impressive among the young players, like rookie tackle Trent Williams.

"I've played in seven," Williams said. "That feels like a century."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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