- The Washington Times - Monday, October 24, 2005

LaVar Arrington looked at all the microphones and television cameras in front of his locker.

“Golly, where was this three weeks ago?” he asked.

Many wondered the same thing about Arrington, a three-time Pro Bowl linebacker who played a total of four snaps the three games before yesterday.

The talk was Arrington was too undisciplined to play in the system of Gregg Williams, the assistant head coach/defense. There was even talk that the Redskins were not playing Arrington just to spite him because of his bitter contract dispute with the team.

Arrington at least put the controversy on hold yesterday, entering the game on the Redskins’ second defensive play and delivering a standout performance.

He led the Redskins with nine tackles — seven solo — and provided a huge emotional rallying point for his team’s 52-17 rout of the San Francisco 49ers.

“I felt like I was dreaming today, man,” Arrington said. “I couldn’t have dreamed it any better.”

Arrington publicly had questioned his lack of playing time, and he got a rousing ovation when he jogged onto the field less than a minute into the game.

Arrington played mainly in second-and-long situations in the first half, but he got extended time in the second half of a lopsided contest. His highlights included tackling wide receiver Rasheed Marshall for a 7-yard loss on an end-around early in the third quarter.

“He stepped up and gave us what we were missing,” said Redskins linebacker Lemar Marshall, who admitted he was surprised Arrington hadn’t played much before yesterday.

“I think Coach Williams thought it was time to turn him loose today,” linebacker Marcus Washington said. “He definitely came up big. Hopefully, he will be back in there again next week.”

Arrington missed 12 games last season because of a right knee injury and again had his knee scoped in the offseason. But he declared himself healthy for this season and wondered why he was left on the bench.

Coaches offered no specific reasons for Arrington’s significant increase in playing time, only praising his practice habits.

“He had the best week [coaches] felt like he had in preparation and play in practice,” said coach Joe Gibbs, who adamantly has defended the benching as a football-only issue. “They had some [defensive] packages in there that they were going to try to get him in the game. I think he responded. … It was a good day for LaVar.”

Gibbs did not say whether Arrington will get as much playing time when the Redskins face the New York Giants next week in what should be a much more competitive game.

Arrington said he had lowered his expectations coming into yesterday’s game and did not expect to play much, although he did get a different feel at Redskin Park last week.

“I got some decent reps this week, but I didn’t know,” said Arrington, who was on the field for both 49ers’ touchdowns. “I didn’t know what the situation was going to be.

“But I kind of felt like the interaction between me and the coaches has got a little better. I felt that, like there was a different type of vibe between us. Which was kind of good, it took some tension out of the air.”

Arrington said Gibbs briefly praised him for his performance after the game.

He said he didn’t know exactly what to feel after the game other than “overwhelmed,” and that he will need time to digest the afternoon on which he finally got a chance to play.

“You see my eyes, my red eyes,” he said. “I was trying to get it done. I didn’t care who was hitting me, what was happening. Fearless. I was just happy to be out there with the fellas. That was my biggest thing. I just wanted to be out there with them.

“It was just painful watching them out there fighting — and I’m watching. It meant the world for me to be able to get out there.”


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