In Their Words: LaVar Arrington

Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington is making all the right plays this season. But that's what everyone expected, including his teammates. Arrington talks about playing with future Hall of Famers, talking to Sam Huff. And about how he considers himself a throwback player.

''I have the greatest teachers and mentors anyone could ever have on a team with Bruce and Darrell. A guy like Randy Moss has Cris Carter. It would be more interesting if I had someone like a Ken Norton or Levon Kirkland who played my position. But for us to have gotten as close as we've gotten and for them to accept that this defense goes when LaVar goes that's man, it's almost indescribable to know that guys like Bruce and Darrell depend on you to come out here and show up.

''When people see me in a zone or sometimes I look irritated or bothered it might be because I didn't have the type of practice I wanted or the type of game I needed to have. It might have been a good game but not a great game. I've been around great people so that requires me to play great. For me to be put in a situation where, early in my career, I'm expected to play great all the time, it has its ups and downs. But as I get older and it becomes more of a mental thing than a physical thing, then I'll understand how to play great all the time.

''Sam Huff has been such a great help, too. He's an encourgament every Sunday--we talk twice a week. When we're on the road we sit down and talk. Because of that my pass drops have gotten better. He always said there's a certain way to do pass drops. He told me what to look for, just to trust your instincts and trust what you studied and not to look at the quarterback all the time. He gives me all kinds of helpful tidbits.

''I won't let myself slide down the ladder. A lot of people talk about throwbacks and people don't look at me as a throwback player, but I've always approached the game as a throwback player. Everyone talks about the Singletary's, the Butkus's and Ham and Lambert, Mel Blount, Jack Tatum. They brought some noise. They brought it so bad that they had to ban a lot of the things they did like headslapping, clotheslining. They brought it all. Sometimes you weren't in the play and they clotheslined you anway. That's throwback.

''I also have a lot of pride in coming from western Pennsylvania. Think about who comes from there. I have to. That's what we're known for: steel mills and football players. I'm in line with the greats and I've got to leave my mark like I left there's.

''I'm a student of the game. A lot of people give me criticism that I'm not as studious as I should be, but I think we all learn different. If you learn different from someone else, they might try and criticize how you learn things. I watch football casually and I study film casually. I don't always have to watch it and be like, 'This is such and such.' I get a feel just by watching.

''I want to get to the point where I'm so into the game that everything is moving so slow. It's gotten that way a little bit this year. Time will tell how it will go trying to be [considered] one of the elite linebackers. A little bit of popularity plays a part in that. Sometimes it's not cool to say that someone is that good. I look at a guy like Eric Dickerson and he's in my top three running backs of all time. But people never gave him that type of respect. Sometimes you wonder if that's the boat you're going to fall in.''


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