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Idling his time away
LaVar Arrington already is envisioning himself as an ex-Redskin.
The 27-year-old Washington Redskins linebacker, once a Pro Bowl perennial, largely has been an afterthought for the defense this season. Arrington has played only seven snaps in the Redskins' past two games -- close wins over the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks.
"I know I can still play at a very high level," Arrington said. "It's just a matter if I get to do it here or if I do it somewhere else. If the direction is going away from me and going towards other things, then, as a man, I have to accept that. I have to move on and figure out what's next for me."
Arrington made three consecutive Pro Bowls from the 2001 to 2003 seasons but missed most of last season following knee surgery.
Linebackers coach Dale Lindsey declined yesterday to talk about Arrington's lack of playing time. Assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams speaks to reporters only on Thursdays.
Coach Joe Gibbs, however, said he can understand why fans are surprised that Arrington is playing so little.
"I know he's disappointed about not making more of an impact, not playing more," said Gibbs, who met with Arrington yesterday. "It's something we just have to work our way through. We've got a lot of talented guys on our defense who can do a lot of things for us. Lots of times our blitzing comes from the secondary. Our defensive schemes try to use all of our people.
"Last year LaVar went through a tough injury thing. This year he's not a starter. It revolves then around the packages and how much [his] packages are called."
Gibbs said he no longer is concerned about Arrington's knee, which kept him off the field during the first two weeks of training camp.
"People say maybe [I'm] not really healthy," said Arrington, who before that injury was the focal point of the defense. "I'm 100-percent healthy. I think I know my body well enough."
Arrington said he doesn't really know why he doesn't fit Williams' system as well as new starter Warrick Holdman or pass-rushing specialist Chris Clemons.
"Yeah, I'm surprised," Arrington said. "Do I hate being off the field? Of course -- I hate not playing. But I don't make those decisions. We're 3-0, so obviously we're doing something right. I don't want my situation to become a distraction, a problem. I love my teammates too much for that.
"By no means am I going to sit here and whine and complain and throw tirades. I have a challenge in front of me, and I'll continue to try to be a professional. I understand that it needs to be reported for what I stand for within this organization and this community. But I don't need this to be an ongoing soap opera: 'Why isn't LaVar playing? What's wrong with LaVar?' "
Arrington said he would simply do what the team asks.
"I'm here every day. I'm here on time," he said. "I don't get in trouble off the field. I don't get in trouble on the field. I do what I'm asked to do. That's how I've always been. People want to [say] 'I'm a freelancer and all this other stuff.' ... I know people have to justify why a three-time Pro Bowler isn't playing, but this is my job.
"You do what you're asked to do. Sometimes you like it, sometimes you don't. Right now I'm asked to sit and watch, and that's what I'm doing."
The eight-year, $68 million contract Arrington signed in December 2003 would make unloading it this offseason very difficult. His signing bonus of more than $11 million would accelerate and count against the 2006 salary cap. Trading or cutting Arrington after June 1 would put about $2 million of those costs on next season's cap, with the remaining $9 million deferred until 2007.
Arrington is a Pittsburgh native and the kind of no-holds-barred linebacker Steelers coach Bill Cowher likes. However, the Steelers have always been loathe to spend mega-millions on particular players.
San Diego's Marty Schottenheimer was a big Arrington fan when he coached the Redskins in 2001. Although the Chargers drafted Maryland end/linebacker Shawne Merriman in the first round this year, they could still be a possibility for Arrington.
By John R. Bolton
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