- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 6, 2002

Washington Redskins linebacker Jessie Armstead will never forget the 34-7 beating the Baltimore Ravens handed his New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV. Now he wants the Redskins, whose defense is led by former Ravens coordinator Marvin Lewis, to play with the swagger Baltimore showed that day.

"I liked [the Ravens] attitude," Armstead said yesterday during an introductory news conference at Redskin Park. "They didn't sit around like choir boys. We sat around like little choir boys. We were quiet. And they beat us. They played some ball, flew around, made plays. And they got the ring."

Armstead, 31, signed a three-year, $4.5million contract on Friday, the first day of free agency. He briefly considered Carolina, where former Giants defensive coordinator John Fox is coach, but was persuaded by the Redskins' instant interest. He emphasized that his quick signing was not about the right contract but the right place to win.

"I'm coming here adding another beast to this 'D,'" Armstead said. "I'm not coming to collect a check. I'm coming to work. Money doesn't really matter to me."

A torn hamstring limited Armstead, a talented pass-rusher, to just 1½ sacks in 2001. He made his fifth straight Pro Bowl but many observers said he was past his prime. New York exposed Armstead and his $5.7million salary cap number in the expansion draft, but Houston passed on him and he was released last week.

"I'm going to go out and show everybody I've got a lot left in the tank," Armstead said. "All I ask is that you [disregard] the number of years I've played in the league and judge me by [how I perform]."

The signing appears to make Washington's linebacking corps a real strength, uniting Armstead with young star LaVar Arrington, who played in his first Pro Bowl last month, and veteran Kevin Mitchell, who was extremely solid in the middle in 2001.

Arrington called Armstead "old man" at the Pro Bowl, and Armstead's nine years of experience and rise from being an eighth-round draft pick in 1993 makes Lewis believe he is an ideal mentor. Arrington has grown close with linebacker Shawn Barber but Barber might depart the club as an unrestricted free agent.

"It's so important for LaVar to have a guy like [Armstead]," Lewis said. "He's had Shawn, who's a couple of years older than him. Now he's got a guy who's got double the experience [and] who's been to the Super Bowl. He's had Bruce [Smith], he's had Darrell [Green]. Now he's got a guy who's in that meeting room with him."

Arrington, meanwhile, continues to hope that Barber will re-sign. Lewis has said the Redskins will consider a 3-4 defense if Barber returns to the club, and Arrington is intrigued by the schematic possibility. Arrington speculated that he and Mitchell would play on the inside in such a defense with Armstead and Barber on the outside.

"We might be better as a 3-4 team," Arrington said. "It would probably be really hard to run the ball [against us]. And it would be really hard to pass the ball, being that Shawn is like a strong safety in a linebacker's body. … Having that many talented linebackers on the field at one time, I think that could only make us better."

Lewis, however, backed off the idea of a 3-4, which only Pittsburgh employed all the time last season. Lewis wouldn't rule it out but said, "We have a scheme [left over from 2001]. The only decision to be made is if we have to depart from it. And I don't see that happening."

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