- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 12, 2005

After quietly undergoing another knee surgery last week, Washington Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington did some verbal slicing of his own yesterday, accusing the organization of, among other things, rushing him back into action.

The three-time Pro Bowl pick is expected to miss two more months following the latest setback to a knee initially injured in September. The Redskins expect him to be full strength for the start of training camp in late July, but Arrington said he’s done accelerating his timetable to meet team expectations.

“I’m taking as much time as I need,” Arrington said as he hobbled out of Redskin Park on crutches. “And if that means they’re upset and want to get rid of me, then so be it. But I’m not coming back before my knee is ready. I tried it their way, and it got me on crutches again. … They can get upset, be uncomfortable with it, but I’m going to take as much time as I need.”

Coach Joe Gibbs refuted the claim that Arrington had been pushed back into action, saying that, if anything, it was the team that tried to steer a prudent route.

“Every single part of LaVar’s injury has been treated with utmost caution,” Gibbs said. “And I would say that, from a Redskins standpoint, even LaVar has been mad at me because we’ve been so cautious.”

Perceived pressure to play wasn’t the only thing sparking Arrington’s ire. He also griped that the club didn’t inform his teammates or the public about last week’s surgery and that he hasn’t been given enough credit for fighting through pain. And his quotes were in no way cryptic or veiled.

“In terms of the support from them, it’s like nothing,” Arrington said. “It’s like, just let me disappear and die. To me, it just kind of [stinks]. It’s not like I have a relationship with them anyway — because they’re new. … Does that mean it’s right the way things are handled? I had a teammate that didn’t even know I had surgery.”

When asked whether he had discussed his feelings with Gibbs, who has made smooth communication with players one of the ostensible pillars of the organization, Arrington replied, “I don’t really care, to be honest. I just care about getting healthy and trying to be able to play. I don’t really care what anybody thinks at this point.”

Gibbs wasn’t informed of Arrington’s comments for several hours. When word finally trickled back to the coach during draft meetings, he immediately called his marquee player and tried to calm him down. Afterward the coach gathered the two reporters to whom Arrington spoke and explained the team’s perspective.

According to Gibbs, he tried several times to reach Arrington last week and was waiting to release news of the surgery until the two spoke. Gibbs felt like yesterday’s talk went well and he was confident that today, after he, director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer, surgeon James Andrews and Arrington hold a conference call to discuss the rehab schedule, the linebacker will admit his comments were made hastily.

“I think LaVar, if I get him in here tomorrow and talk about some of these issues, he’s going to say, ‘Joe, I was emotional. I shouldn’t have said some of this,’ ” Gibbs said. “Because it’s not the way things played out around here.”

Asked whether things have been smoothed over, Gibbs replied: “I think they’ve been good with me and LaVar all along.”

Neither Gibbs nor Arrington is a stranger to controversy. The coach recently shipped wide receiver Laveranues Coles out of town after the player expressed frustration with the offense and asked to be released. And Arrington still hasn’t resolved his $6.5 million contract dispute with the Redskins, whom he accused of doctoring an agreed-upon pact just before submitting it to him to sign.

Meanwhile, Wednesday’s surgery and yesterday’-week recovery period and be back in “a week and a half.”

Instead, his attempt to return came Oct. 25, and it didn’t even last a day. He slipped on a wet practice field at Redskin Park, and an MRI two days later revealed a bone bruise. Arrington finally managed to play in the Dec. 18 win at San Francisco, but his knee didn’t react well, and he spent the season’s final week on injured reserve.

Arrington progressed with alternating optimism and frustration this offseason before experiencing some pain while running early last week. Andrews, the renowned orthopedist who performed Arrington’s first surgery, evaluated Arrington’s knee Wednesday, found scar tissue and some “loose bodies” and removed them with a second procedure.

Tyer described the latest developments as positive, saying Arrington’s knee otherwise “looks great” and that his 2005 season is “absolutely not” in jeopardy.

“I feel better about it today than I did two weeks ago,” Tyer said. “The fact that we scoped it and the fact that [Andrews] visually looked in there and poked and prodded it … the cartilage is in good shape, and he’s going to have a good, solid knee.”

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