Arrington leads cheers for newly drafted Taylor

Redskins linebacker lauds Gibbs for choosing hard-hitting Miami safety

April 27, 2004|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - Move over, Clinton Portis. Sean Taylor, the newest Washington Redskin, has another fan: LaVar Arrington.

Arrington was the first and only player to congratulate Taylor after the team introduced its No. 5 overall choice of the 2004 draft yesterday at Redskins Park.

Arrington, a fifth-year linebacker who was Washington's No. 2 overall pick in the 2000 NFL draft, was overjoyed at the addition of a hard-working, intimidating safety like Taylor.

"I don't really take to too many people, but I like him," Arrington said. "I like his spirit and the way he carries himself."

Taylor, a 6-foot-2, 231-pound ball hawk from the University of Miami, was identified by many draft experts as the best defensive player in the draft. His speed, aggressiveness and strength were qualities that persuaded the Redskins to take Taylor over former Hurricanes teammate and tight end Kellen Winslow II.

"It's the best situation for me," Taylor said of joining Washington. "I'm moving to a team that has great players. There's C.P. [Portis], [Laveranues] Coles, LaVar, [Fred] Smoot. ... I'm just a young guy trying to come here and earn some stripes and hopefully give them a chance to win some games."

Taylor is expected to be the starting free safety when the Redskins open the season at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept 12. Matt Bowen, last year's starter at that position, is expected to move to the strong safety role.

Taylor has drawn comparisons to Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, who was known for his punishing hits. Like Lott, Taylor has delivered some crushing blows of his own against opponents.

Washington coach Joe Gibbs recalled studying film of a tight end whose team was playing against the Hurricanes.

"The tight end goes in across the middle, and he catches this ball at about the 15-yard line," Gibbs said. "You see a blur go wham! And that tight end went upside down, and he hit the ground. I went like, `That's it!' That made a good impression right there."

Assistant head coach Gregg Williams had said that Taylor's versatility to cover wide receivers, play in the slot or blitz gives the defense greater flexibility. Taylor said he welcomes all tasks.

"I think that's why the Redskins got me, because I can do a lot of things and help the team - not like it needs too much help - in the safety area," said Taylor, who will get his first taste of the NFL at the team's second of three minicamps Friday through Sunday. "Whatever is asked of me, I'll do it."

Arrington also took the time to praise the team's other moves in the draft, which included trading draft picks to select Utah State tight end Chris Cooley in the third round and choosing offensive linemen Mark Wilson of California and Jim Molinaro of Notre Dame.

"I think Joe Gibbs is showing why he's a champion by the moves he's made," Arrington said. "I think Coach Gibbs has really put together something special, and it's going to be interesting to see how this all pans out."

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