The Good: LaVar Arrington

Shawn Barber didn't play and Darrell Green barely did. But both impacted LaVar Arrington's performance in Sunday's 23-9 loss at the Giants. And both are responsible, at least a little, for his best game as a Redskin.

Arrington returned one week earlier than anticipated from a sprained knee. He finished with 12 tackles.

''LaVar played better than I thought he would because of the time he missed,'' Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer said. ''He can run and make plays and he makes the kind of plays where you go, 'Wow.' Like running guys down from across the field. He was very productive. He knows all eyes are on him.''

But Arrington said it was Barber's absence that rallied his game. Barber is out for the season with a knee injury. Arrington wanted his close friend to live vicariously through him.

So Arrington concentrated on hitting as hard as he ever had.

The result: a sore shoulder.

''I meant that,'' Arrington said. ''Everytime I hit somebody I hit them twice as hard. That's the truth. I don't know how long I can keep it up.''

Arrington said he had to mature minus Barber.

''I always relied on him [on the field],'' Arrington said. ''I knew what I had to do, but I knew I could look over and he'd let me know what to do. He was always there. All of a sudden I'm looking over and it's Antonio [Pierce]. I'm like, 'I don't have my guy out here with me.' I really didn't rely on myself before, I relied on him. I've had to grow up quick.''

Without Barber, Arrington was forced into pass coverage more. He also rushed as a down end on occasion for the first time this season.

But it wasn't only Barber's spirit that guided Arrington. It was words from Green in a team meeting Saturday.

Green addressed the entire team, telling them to return to their football roots and play for the fun, not the money.

''It played a huge part in how I played,'' Arrington said. ''I knew I would gut it out, but I had no idea I would go out there and be Hollywood.''

Meanwhile, Arrington limped out of Redskin Park on Monday. He suffered a bruised knee, and said his other knee, the one that kept him out for a game, is sore.

But he'll play at Dallas on Monday.

John Keim has covered the Redskins for the Journal Newspapers for eight years. He's also a correspondent for Pro Football Weekly.

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