- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2001

The news got worse for the Washington Redskins' struggling defense yesterday. Starting linebacker Shawn Barber learned he will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his right knee.
The injury is another blow to the Redskins' last-ranked defense, which gave up 546 total yards while playing without two injured stars in Sunday's 45-13 home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Washington, despite respectable defensive showings in Weeks 1 and 2, is on pace to break the 1981 Indianapolis Colts' record for points allowed in a season.
Barber joins a pair of stalwarts defensive end Marco Coleman (dislocated elbow) and linebacker LaVar Arrington (sprained knee) on the sideline.
"We lost another playmaker," defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson said. "It's discouraging. It fits along with how the team is going. We haven't played the way we're capable, and we're losing key guys. It fits into the whole dark cloud over us right now."
Barber, 26, left Redskin Park in the evening with his knee wrapped but no crutches. He said the knee surprisingly had no swelling, which allowed an MRI in the morning to show that the ACL clearly was torn. There was no MCL damage, Barber said.
He was disappointed about the injury but upbeat overall, saying, "I still want to be able to contribute as much as I can. I'll be a motivator."
Barber will undergo surgery in coming weeks and begin running approximately 12 weeks later. He should be available in time for training camp next summer, though whose training camp remains a question.
Expiring at season's end is Barber's one-year tender offer, which the Redskins made after failing to complete a long-term pact in the summer. Barber, a third-round pick by the Redskins in 1998, was hoping for big money in unrestricted free agency in the upcoming offseason and might have to settle for less because of the injury. However, he didn't seem frustrated.
"I said before the season that the contract is not something to worry about," Barber said with a smile. "That's why I have an agent. I guess he's got something to be worried about now."
Coleman, meanwhile, is expected to miss Sunday's game in New York against the Giants. Schottenheimer and Arrington believe Arrington has a chance to play.
Weakside backup Eddie Mason could replace Barber, or Schottenheimer could shuffle his banged-up corps. Robert Jones could play the weak side or perhaps replace Kevin Mitchell in the middle. Jones lost a preseason battle for the middle job partly because he sprained a knee in the final preseason game. Mitchell has impressed with his work ethic but struggled at times against Kansas City.
Undrafted rookie linebacker Antonio Pierce also had some tough moments against the Chiefs, particularly in coverage. But Schottenheimer said Pierce "was all over the field" in his first career start and added that Pierce is a candidate to start again if Arrington does not.
The Redskins also will seek to sign a free agent linebacker. Among those available are Lonnie Marts (with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season), Dwayne Gordon (New York Jets), Ken Norton (San Francisco 49ers) and Barry Minter (a former Chicago Bear who began this season with the Cleveland Browns). Marts played his first four seasons (1990-93) under Schottenheimer with the Chiefs.
The Redskins' other injuries do not appear serious. Wide receiver Michael Westbrook has a bruised hip, running back Stephen Davis tweaked his knee, returner Michael Bates bruised a heel and fullback Donnell Bennett sprained a toe.
First-year defensive tackle Jerry DeLoach also remains a candidate to start after being pulled Sunday following a first half that saw Chiefs running back Priest Holmes gain 120 rushing yards, mostly up the middle. DeLoach's status partly depends on whether Kenard Lang remains at tackle.
Lang is one of the Redskins' few bright spots. Already a success in his first season as a full-time tackle before moving to left end Sunday for Coleman, Lang appears to be fulfilling the potential that accompanied his first-round selection in 1997. He moved back to tackle in Sunday's second half, and Schottenheimer said Lang can excel at either position.
Lang's play could mean a big free agent contract with another team this offseason. But he and agent Drew Rosenhaus said he is willing to listen to offers from the Redskins during the season, with the desire to remain in Washington perhaps outweighing the desire to test the market. No talks have begun.
"It's a great town, a great organization," Lang said. "The owner wants what's best for the team, and Marty Schottenheimer wants the same thing also. They're trying to take a first-class flight to the Super Bowl, and I want to be on that plane."

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