- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 10, 2005

Warrick Holdman isn’t exactly a pro football neophyte, so he’s keenly aware of his situation on the Washington Redskins’ defense. He started all four preseason games at outside linebacker and is expected to get the call tomorrow against Chicago.

But LaVar is looming.

Two games into his comeback from a knee injury, LaVar Arrington appears primed to reclaim his starting spot as early as the Dallas game Sept. 19.

“He’s worked hard to come back. He’s started before and he’s gone to Pro Bowls — he should get a chance to start,” Holdman conceded. “I understand all of it.”

Holdman’s goal against the Bears, one of his former teams, will be to show assistant head coach/defense Gregg Williams and linebackers coach Dale Lindsey that he has picked up the nuances of the Redskins’ system well enough that when Arrington does return to full-time duty, he still can play a big role.

“I sat Warrick down and said, ‘It might be a healthy competition, but we’re in it together. I’m going to help you become a better player. … Anytime I see you doing something wrong, I’ll help you out with it,’ ” Arrington said. “We’re developing a trust for one another.”

One of Holdman’s assets is a versatility that allows him to play all three linebacker positions.

“He’s the kind of linebacker we like because he can do so many things,” Williams said. “We don’t want a cookie-cutter middle linebacker or a cookie-cutter outside linebacker. We want all of them to be interchangeable, and it allows us to play more of the packages we talk about.”

Lindsey, who coached Holdman in Chicago, said the player has been making steady progress but he was hoping to see more rapid improvement.

“I think he’s getting back into his groove,” Lindsey said. “He’s not where we want him to be. I’ve seen him play better, and I’ve seen him react better. But he’s a decent player. There are some things he can do — play nickel, play in the regular [defense] and rush on third down.”

During training camp, Holdman struggled with learning the Redskins’ defense.

“It was like a foreign language,” he said. Additionally, coaches told him his fundamentals needed to improve. Holdman agreed with Lindsey’s analysis.

“Dale is a big technique guy,” he said. “When he left Chicago, I missed most of the next season and then played for coaches that weren’t as much about being technically sound. But this game is about working every day. If you let two days go by, your technique will suffer, so you can imagine what it does when you let three years go by.

“As a player, you’re always thinking you’re doing things so right, but Dale’s just trying to make me a better player.”

Said Lindsey: “He’s getting back to the style we like and the style he hasn’t played in a while. New habits are learned a lot easier than old habits are broken.”

Following a 2001 season in which Holdman made 145 tackles for a 13-3 Bears team, his career was derailed by a knee injury that cost him 12 games in 2002. The next season, he played 14 games but recorded only 79 tackles and was released.

Holdman had a solid 2004 season with Cleveland, playing in every game for the first time in three years and making 110 tackles. But a new coaching staff allowed Holdman to leave, and he signed a $540,000 contract with the Redskins on May 17.

“He’s a savvy veteran,” outside linebacker Marcus Washington said. “He’s been around for a while and he’s able to use his speed to get to the football. A lot of guys like to run into blocks and the ball is going right past them. But he uses his footwork and speed to outquick a lineman and force them to miss their block.”

One constant for Holdman has been playing on struggling teams, aside from 2001. The last few seasons have taught him about the business side of football; with the Redskins, he wants to return to the winning side.

“I’ve had only one winning season,” he said, “and I’m only having fun when I’m winning. I want to win in the worst way because I want to experience what I felt in 2001.”

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