Arrington tackles reports on TV

Backup linebacker insists he hasn't refused to play on special teams for Redskins

October 04, 2005|By EDWARD LEE | EDWARD LEE,SUN REPORTER

ASHBURN, Va. -- Linebacker LaVar Arrington emerged from Redskins Park yesterday, disputing TV reports that he refused to play on special teams or said he didn't "fit in" with the Washington Redskins.

Arrington, the only current Redskin to play in three Pro Bowls, participated in just two plays in Sunday's 20-17 overtime win against the Seattle Seahawks that lifted Washington to its first 3-0 start since 1991.

During the Fox telecast, it was reported that Arrington, who was asked to play on special teams, threatened to retaliate by being late for team meetings. Arrington denied the allegation.

"I'm not like that," he said. "I did not sit there and tell coaches, `I'm not playing special teams,' or anything like that. I do what they tell me to do, and that's what it is."

During the same telecast, it was reported that Arrington said he didn't "fit in" with the organization.

"I believe I fit in anywhere," he said. "If the direction is that they want to go away from me and go onto other things, then, hey, as a man, I have to accept that, and I have to move on and figure out what's next for me - if that's the situation in front of me. But by no means am I going to sit here and whine and complain and throw tirades of any sort. I have a challenge in front of me, and I perceive it as such."

Arrington has played in all three games, but started only against the Dallas Cowboys when the Redskins used a 3-4 alignment and has just two tackles.

He is listed second on the depth chart at weakside linebacker behind former Cleveland Brown Warrick Holdman. On Sunday, Holdman made his third consecutive start, but it was Chris Clemons who spelled Holdman frequently.

Coach Joe Gibbs said Arrington's infrequent play has been predicated on the packages called by Gregg Williams, the assistant head coach in charge of defense.

"It kind of revolves how much those packages are called," Gibbs said. "It's one of those things that the defensive coaches scheme up, and sometimes it changes from game to game. I know he's disappointed about not making more of an impact and not playing more. But I think it's something we have to work our way through."

Last week, linebackers coach Dale Lindsey said Arrington was behind Holdman because of his unfamiliarity with Williams' system.

"Warrick's pace is ahead of LaVar's because Warrick got to do it all spring," Lindsey said. "LaVar didn't get to do it. To me, both of them are starting from scratch, and actually, Warrick has had much more reps than LaVar has had."

Arrington's tenure with the Redskins has been somewhat tumultuous. Selected second overall in the 2000 draft, Arrington was supposed to be the cornerstone of the organization's future, but Washington is 37-46 with no playoff appearances since that draft.

Arrington and the franchise became embroiled in a 19-month contract dispute that was settled in August. In April, he lashed out at the Redskins for not supporting him and then turned on the media for reporting his grievances.

Arrington missed 12 games last season due to a strained lateral meniscus and underlying bone bruise. After two operations and missing a significant portion of training camp, he appeared healthy for the regular-season opener against the Chicago Bears.

But Washington has used Arrington sparingly, raising questions that the coaches might still be concerned about his surgically repaired right knee.

"I'm healthy," he said. "People say, `Well, maybe he's not really healthy.' No, I'm 100 percent healthy. I think I know my body well enough."

Despite Arrington's absence, the defense has been the one example of consistent success for the Redskins. It finished last season third in the NFL in yards allowed and is fifth this season, and has surrendered just 37 points in three games.

Determined to prevent his situation from exploding into a soap opera, Arrington said he is resigned to his role as a teacher and teammate.

"Do I hate being out? Of course," he said. "I hate not playing, but what can I do? I don't make those decisions. ... I'm going to be supportive to my teammates, and I'm going to do what I can do to help this team continue to win."

Note -- Gibbs said safety Sean Taylor (bruised shoulder) will likely play in Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos. Safety Pierson Prioleau (strained hamstring) and kicker John Hall (strained quadriceps) also worked out yesterday, but cornerback Walt Harris (strained calf) did not.edward.lee@baltsun.com

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