Arrington's hits excite Redskins

Linebacker LaVar Arrington has crushed just about everything that's moved lately. Even his own teammates. Just ask Redskins end Bruce Smith, who was knocked woozy by an Arrington hit in Sunday's win over Denver.

''That's the hardest hit I've ever taken,'' Smith said.

Not that he minds.

''I'm loving his aggressive style of play,'' Smith said. ''He's only going to get better. They say friendly fire is the worst kind, but as long as he's playing aggressive like he's playing, it's great for the team.

''[Coming back from injuries] shows you what type of character he has. It shows the desire to play the game. He wants it. He wants it bad. You can see it in his eyes, his posture, you can see it in his character and his choice of words. That's the kind of guy I like to have on my team.''

Arrington's overall play has improved--he's playing relaxed and with freedom, just like he did at Penn State. But he's getting noticed because of his jarring hits, which seem to occur at least once a game.

That's what Arrington likes. And it's what he grew up watching as a kid in Pittsburgh.

''That's the city of hard knocks,'' he said. ''I grew up watching the Steel Curtain and just watching people get laid out. That's what we try to do in Pittsburgh. You either had a pretty boy, which is a good quarterback or the Tony Dorsett's. Running backs are pretty boys, too. Or you had the hard core, no-teeth Jack Hams and Jack Lamberts. Dwight White. They're just laying people out. I call them oooooo hits. I get off when I hear the crowd go ooooooo. I can't hear it while I'm doing it, but I can hear it after the play is over. I enjoy doing that and I'm good at it.

''Those hits are something that defensive guys talk about. It's a reactionary hit. You don't want a 'Good hit' hit. That's just all right. That's just saying you got the person down. You want a hit where someone's looking at the guy on the ground like, ooooooo. That's what you need. We've got a whole bunch of bags around here and we're going to carry them around with us. There's nothing but ooooo hits. It's getting contagious. I can see guys getting laid out.''

Such hits make an impact, firing up teammates on the sidelines and causing some opposing receivers and ball carriers to pay special attention to where No. 56 is. Those footsteps get louder the more they get crunched.

And Arrington knows it.

''Who dropped a ball at the end of the Denver game?'' he said. ''Someone dropped it standing right in front of me. It makes a different. You hit someone hard, that plays on their brain. You can say, 'It doesn't bother me, I'll come back for more.' But in your mind, that hurt. It's in there. The arms shorten up, you don't run quite as hard. You look for holes where you didn't look before. Your game is different. We've changed you and that's what we're all about doing.''

John Keim covers the Redskins for The Journal Newspapers and is a correspondent for Pro Football Weekly.

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