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Redskins Fletcher skips practice, sees neurologist

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Redskins Fletcher skips practice, sees neurologist

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher was being evaluated by a neurologist for a possible head injury Thursday and missed practice for a second consecutive day, putting his 15-year consecutive-games streak in doubt.

Coach Mike Shanahan said Fletcher was checked for about six hours by a doctor for a ``balance issue.'' Shanahan listed the 37-year-old Fletcher as not practicing because of head and hamstring problems.

``If he's able to go, you know he's going to be able to go. But I'm sure he's a little scared, too, because any time you deal with a balance issue, it's something that's out of your control,'' Shanahan said. ``London's a smart guy. He wants to play, but at the same time, he understands that if there's something wrong with your balance, that's a pretty tough situation to be in and he's smart enough not to put his body into a situation that could hurt him.''

Shanahan said he did not know whether Fletcher has a concussion and wouldn't be able to provide more information about the player's status until Friday.

Fletcher has appeared in 231 NFL games in a row since entering the league as an undrafted rookie with the St. Louis Rams in 1998.

He left Washington's 27-23 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday in the second half with what the team said was a right hamstring injury.

The Redskins (3-4) are at the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3) on Sunday.

``Could he play? I can't tell you that for sure until we go out on the field and until we find out what the problem is with his balance,'' Shanahan said.

The team didn't know about the balance problem until Monday, according to Shanahan. Fletcher attended practice on Wednesday but didn't take part, then limped off the field.

Fletcher's consecutive-games streak is the longest among active players, and the second longest for any defensive player since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger. Fletcher and Tampa Bay defensive back Ronde Barber have usually been tied atop the active list, but Fletcher moved one game ahead this month when the Buccaneers had their bye week.

Fletcher came close to missing a game three previous times - last season because of a hamstring, in 2008 because of a foot, and in 2005 because of a hamstring while with the Buffalo Bills.

In August, Fletcher missed a series of practices and a preseason game against the Chicago Bears. At the time, Shanahan said Fletcher was ``not feeling right'' but did not give any details.

If he is out Sunday, backup inside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander would take Fletcher's spot and wear the headset helmet that allows contact with the sideline.

``What you lose from London is obviously the leadership role, the passion and energy that he brings to the game, much like a Ray Lewis,'' Alexander said. ``Obviously you can't match what he brings to the game experience-wise - there's not too many guys who have played 15 years and have called out defenses - but am I capable of going in there and playing and getting in there and winning a game for us as well? Yes.''

The Redskins continue to be without receiver Pierre Garcon, who said Thursday he's hoping to avoid surgery after a doctor told him he has a torn ligament on the bottom of his right foot.

``He wants to play, and he tried to push through that pain, and it just got to be so bad he couldn't be effective,'' Shanahan said.

Garcon described the injury that's sidelined him for four of Washington's past six games as a ``plantar plate tear'' near his second toe. The plantar plate is a ligament that holds a toe in its joint.

``Surgery is an option. Probably done for the year. But we don't really want to think about that at all,'' Garcon said. ``I don't want to have surgery. I've never had surgery before, so want to keep my streak alive. But it could be a possibility if it doesn't heal right. They have to go in there and fix the ligament, if it needs to be fixed.''

Garcon only has eight catches for 153 yards this season, his first with the Redskins after signing a $42.5 million, five-year contract as a free agent.

He visited a foot specialist Wednesday and was told the injury probably can't worsen if Garcon plays on it, ``but it can feel worse.''

The toe began bothering him during the preseason, Garcon said, and he ``felt a pop'' during Washington's victory over the New Orleans Saints in Week 1. Garcon had four catches for 109 yards, including an 88-yard touchdown pass from Griffin, in that game.

He missed the next two games, returned for two, and has been sidelined again the past two weeks.

``I played with it. I can play with it. But I can't really run full speed. I can't really explode, be fast,'' Garcon said Thursday. ``Trying to get treatment and trying to get back out there as fast as we can, but there's no real timetable set for it or no real specific treatment to get it healed.''

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10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

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USA Today Sports

10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.

10) Will the Redskins develop depth on the D-line?

9) Can the Redskins count on Montae Nicholson?

8) Want better offense? Get more out of the tight ends 

7) Will Jimmy Moreland actually win the slot CB job from Fabian Moreau?

6) After losing Reuben Foster, how's the Redskins LB situation?

5) Will potential match production for Redskins WRs?

When a team picks in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft, folks around the NFL expect that player to become a Pro Bowler. For Washington, that exact scenario unfolded with right guard Brandon Scherff. 

Mostly. 

Selected fifth overall in 2015, the Redskins took Scherff to play right tackle and anchor the offensive line opposite Trent Williams. That idea quickly faded, helped by the emergence of Morgan Moses, and Scherff moved inside to play guard. For four years, it's worked out great, with Pro Bowl selections in 2016 and 2017. 

Scherff is a mauler in the best sense of the word. He has great footwork and Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has called the former Iowa Hawkeye the best pulling guard in the NFL. Scherff is strong and nasty, words that won't win beauty pageants but absolutely win in the trenches of the NFL. 

Considering all of that, a contract extension for Scherff should be easy. Right?

Wrong. 

Currently in the final year of his rookie deal, multiple reports stretching over the last six weeks indicate that the organization is way off in their extension offers to Scherff. He might not command the biggest contract in the league, but he will get paid like a top three guard. In 2019, that means a lot of money.

Cowboys guard Zach Martin makes $14 million a year. Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell makes $13.3 million a year. Scherff might not get to Martin's salary, but he will probably get to Norwell, whether Washington pays it or not.

That means the Redskins need to pony up the cash now because as each day passes, the team is approaching an ugly set of options. Scherff and his representatives might continue to negotiate during the season, but it doesn't make a lot of sense. Once free agency becomes in view, players tend to wait for it. Just ask Kirk Cousins. 

In fact, the situation between Scherff and the Redskins has some resemblance to the Cousins saga from a few years ago. 

In that case, Washington low-balled their homegrown quarterback in their first set of negotiations. From there, things went sideways, and the team used consecutive franchise tags on Cousins before he finally left via free agency. 

If the Redskins can't get a deal done with Scherff, the team could use a franchise tag in 2020. But that's a dangerous game of roulette. 

The time to get a deal done with Scherff is now, if not last month. Redskins team president has said in the past that deadlines drive deals, but with Scherff, there is no exact deadline. He can decide to stop working on a contract extension at any moment, particularly once the pads come on at training camp. 

The Trent Williams holdout might be complicating things a bit, if Williams only wants more cash and the issue isn't about much more than that. The truth is a Scherff extension would actually free up cap space in the short term, as his signing bonus would be spread out over the life of the contract, and some of that salary cap relief could go to Williams right away. 

Williams' status isn't the hold up between Scherff and the Redskins. Whatever is the actual holdup best be resolved soon. or the Redskins are beginning down an all too familiar franchise path.

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Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

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USA Today

Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

ATLANTA—Anibal Sanchez outpitched Mike Soroka and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning, Matt Adams homered and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 5-3 on Saturday night.

Second-place Washington pulled within 5 games of the NL East-leading Braves, improving to 33-14 since May 24, best in the majors over that span. Atlanta has dropped four of five.

Sanchez (6-6) got a big assist in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Trea Turner turned a bases-loaded double play, leaping to nab Nick Markakis' liner and throwing to first to beat Josh Donaldson back to the bag.

Soroka (10-2) allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. He had won 10 straight decisions, best by an Atlanta pitcher since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux had a 10-decision streak in 2001.

Sean Doolittle got the last five outs, facing the minimum, for his 21st save in 25 chances. He struck out Ronald Acuna Jr. with a runner at second to end the eighth and breezed through the ninth.

Washington went up 4-1 in the fifth when Sanchez reached on an infield single to third, took second on Donaldson's throwing error and scored on Turner's double. Turner took third on Adam Eaton's single and scored on Anthony Rendon's single. Eaton scored on Juan Soto's single.

The Nationals took a 5-3 lead in the eighth off A.J. Minter as Turner singled, stole second and scored on Eaton's single.

Adams went deep for the 15th time, an opposite-field homer that bounced off the top of the wall in left-center and into the stands to tie it at 1-all in the fourth.

Sanchez, who pitched for the Braves last year and helped them win the division, allowed three runs and six hits and has a 2.70 ERA in his last nine starts.

Atlanta led 1-0 in the first when Acuna reached on an infield single, stole second base, advanced on a flyout and scored on Freddie Freeman's single.

Brian McCann's ninth homer, a two-run shot in the sixth, chased Sanchez and cut the lead to 4-3.

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NBC Sports Washington's Michael Stearman contributed to this Associated Press story.