- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 31, 2003

Washington Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington revived an old concern yesterday when he suffered a mild concussion in practice.

Arrington got through last season without any concussions after suffering three over the course of 2000 and 2001. At one point late in 2001, there was debate about whether Arrington would knock himself right out of the NFL if he didn’t scale back his aggressive play.

Yesterday’s concussion was nowhere near as serious as the one against Philadelphia in 2000 (when he collided with former Redskins return man Brian Mitchell on the opening kickoff), or the one against Carolina in 2001 (when he returned in the second half to make the interception that turned Washington around after an 0-5 start).

“If I had one of those concussions, I wouldn’t really be able to talk to you right now,” Arrington said in the afternoon as he boarded a bus to leave Redskin Park. “I’m good. You get them every once in awhile. I got dinged, but it cleared up.”

Arrington’s freedom to roam under 2001 coordinator Kurt Schottenheimer appeared to boost the chance for concussions — simply put, Arrington was a terror that year, chasing and hammering ballcarriers. He was reigned in and concussion-free last year under Marvin Lewis, and this year he’ll return to a role with more freedom. However, he disputed that there is any correlation.

“Sometimes you can’t prevent how you get dinged upside the head,” Arrington said. “That’s why I play every play like it’s my last. I want to leave it all out there.”

Yesterday’s concussion came from helmet-to-helmet contact with another player. Arrington was hit early in practice and stayed out there for a while but was still feeling the effects later and pulled himself out. He is questionable for today’s two workouts.

Meanwhile, cornerback Fred Smoot and defensive end Ladairis Jackson remained out after suffering some effects from the heat Wednesday. They are expected to return today. Cornerback Rashad Bauman (shoulder), running back Ladell Betts (elbow), offensive linemen Rod Jones (ankle/toe) and Tre Johnson (Achilles’) remain out.

Defensive tackle Jermaine Haley sat out with a sore throat. With the projected starter at Dan Wilkinson’s old spot sidelined, young Bernard Jackson was given a shot to run with the first-teamers. Some club officials consider Jackson the most promising among the young defensive tackles who could win time at the thin spot.

Redskins want Walls

The Redskins were impressed with tight end Wesley Walls’ post-practice workout and tried to sign the veteran tight end to a one-year, minimum salary deal, according to NFL sources.

Walls, however, told the club he would fulfill his scheduled trip to Green Bay. He already has a minimum salary offer from Tampa Bay and will choose among the clubs in coming days. Whether the bidding could escalate beyond a deal that qualifies for the veterans’ salary cap reduction is unclear.

Walls, 37, would upgrade Washington’s pass-catching potential. The Redskins believe he has maintained much of the talent that has gotten him to five Pro Bowls. Zeron Flemister currently is slated to start at tight end, ahead of Robert Royal, Leonard Stephens and rookie Kevin Ware.

Champ’s agent to visit

Agent Jack Reale, having received assurances that the Redskins are ready to begin negotiating a long-term deal for cornerback Champ Bailey, will visit training camp and meet with owner Dan Snyder next week, sources familiar with the situation said.

Bailey, a three-time Pro Bowl player, would be in line for a $15million to $20million signing bonus next spring in unrestricted free agency, where he would be a premier player at a premium position. However, the Redskins still have the potential to use the franchise tag, and they might try to drive a hard bargain.

Tuesday’s release of Dan Wilkinson will aid the Redskins’ attempts to re-sign Bailey, not from a cap standpoint but just in terms of cash.

Wilkinson’s departure essentially had no cap ramifications for 2004, because the final years of his deal were set to void anyway. But even given the expectation that Washington would pay out a signing bonus to Bailey over several years, the club still would need to write a big check up front.

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