- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Time for a rerun of LaVar Leap?

The LaVar Leap might be back.

Washington Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington yesterday speculated that he might unleash the highlight reel move from his Penn State days now that he is positioned off the line of scrimmage and more frequently in front of the ball.

Arrington’s new positioning was on display in Saturday’s preseason loss to the Carolina Panthers. On third-and-goal from the 1, the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker helped Antonio Pierce stuff running back Stephen Davis just short of the goal line.

There was no need for a leap on that play, but Arrington sounded ready for the maneuver — in which he soars over the line just as the ball is snapped and crumples the ballcarrier — as he discussed stuffing Davis.

“Go figure. It was the first time somebody’s put me in a situation where I’m behind the ball,” Arrington said after practice last night. “Like, I can actually have an opportunity to do a leap.”

Arrington’s positioning is an annual topic of debate. He played strongside linebacker his first four NFL seasons, though his specific positioning vacillated as Washington cycled through defensive coordinators. In each usage, he often had to cover a tight end or shed the tight end’s block before chasing the ballcarrier.

Now with Marcus Washington taking over the strong side, Arrington is making an intriguing switch to the weak side, where his speed is appropriate and his 6-foot-3, 253-pound frame adds a wicked dimension. Weakside linebackers (think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Derrick Brooks) are often matched up against running backs and positioned to make more tackles.

Arrington sat out a second practice yesterday with a sore knee but isn’t considered seriously injured.

Upshaw, Wynn healthy

Two defensive linemen are enjoying a preseason of full health and expect the results to start showing on the field.

Regan Upshaw and Renaldo Wynn battled injuries the past two years. Upshaw, who signed in 2003, had ACL surgery in 2002 and didn’t fully heal. Wynn struggled with a groin injury his first two years as a Redskin.

Upshaw recorded just one sack last season after agreeing to a five-year, $7.5 million contract. Yesterday he was blunt about his disappointment.

“I [stunk],” Upshaw said. “I’ll be the first to tell you. You can ask my wife, my kids, my family. And the worst is when you’re [stinking] and you know it and you can’t do anything about it. … I feel more and more like myself every day. … I think the next few weeks, [my play will] just get better and better and better.”

This preseason Upshaw is contending for the key job of right end, where newcomer Phillip Daniels has been slowed by an abdomen strain. Regardless of who starts, Upshaw should get considerable snaps unless the Redskins somehow come up big in the Adewale Ogunleye derby.

Wynn also has been somewhat of a disappointment as a free agent pickup, though no one would dispute his high character and grittiness. This year he’s hoping to make the big plays that have been absent since he signed a six-year, $20.5 million contract in 2002.

“I haven’t missed one day of practice,” Wynn said. “I’ve been strong from the start of camp, all the way through. … It always helps when you’re healthy, because you don’t limit yourself. You don’t have to fight through things. You can focus on other things besides just being injured.”

Extra points

Safety Ifeanyi Ohalete, who started 25 games as a Redskin but was cut Tuesday, became property of Dennis Green when the Arizona Cardinals were the worst of four teams to put in a claim for him. …

Kicker John Hall returned to practice after spending several days in his hometown of Port Charlotte, Fla., which was devastated by Hurricane Charley. Hall declined comment after practice but later said through a team spokesman that he had been helping friends and family clean up in Port Charlotte and the surrounding area. …

Although speculation continues to build regarding the Miami Dolphins’ intentions with Ogunleye, who is unsigned and potential trade bait, Gibbs indicated he feels comfortable with the right end position.

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