Arrington, Samuels make Pro Bowl

When the Redskins drafted LaVar Arrington and Chris Samuels, they envisioned days like this. So, too, did the players. But when it happened, and they made it to the Pro Bowl, Arrington was overwhelmed and Samuels humbled.

''I don't know whether to laugh or cry,'' Arrington said. ''To be considered one of the elite, it hasn't really sunk in yet. I didn't want to have my hopes up too high. I'll probably start crying when I talk to my mom. There are so many people who try to make it there for so long and sometimes it doesn't happen.''

Samuels ticked off a list of people to thank, starting with God and moving down to his teammates. And he was disappointed that fellow tackle, Jon Jansen, didn't merit any mention.

''I wanted it bad, I can't lie,'' Samuels said. ''I put in the hard work and that's been one of my goals, beside the Super Bowl.''

Corner Champ Bailey was named a first alternate while running back Stephen Davis and kick returner Michael Bates were named second alternates. Defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson is a third alternate.

It's fitting that Arrington and Samuels were named to the Pro Bowl in the same season. They'll forever be linked because of where they were drafted in 2000: Arrington was second overall and Samuels was third.

As rookies, their seasons were always compared: Samuels was portrayed as the solid pick; Arrington was the player who provided headaches. Or so the stories went.

''The media made it seem like I was the bad rookie and Chris was the good rookie,'' Arrington said.

And now this.

''It's a little more special that Chris and I make it together because we came in together,'' Arrington said. ''Chris really deserved it. He made me a fan of offensive linemen. I never paid attention to the way the line played until I started to pay attention to him.''

''We started out slow,'' Samuels said of their respective careers, ''but it worked out well for us.''

Arrington viewed yesterday as a starting point.

''I don't want to let this be an end point of what I'm trying to accomplish,'' he said. ''I still have a lot I need to accomplish and I think we have a lot to build on. But for me this is a good moment.''

Both knew they were having good years. And both, in a way, can credit the defensive line for their accomplishment. For Arrington it's obvious why: the more they keep blockers off him, the more plays he can make.

''I owe a lot to the line,'' he said. ''And to the whole defense. We all worked together and as a unit we've really grown.''

''We did our part to [help him],'' Wilkinson said, ''but LaVar is a big-play guy and he did that all year for us.''

But, for Samuels, it was the opportunity to practice against future Hall of Famer Bruce Smith. Samuels wasn't fooled by many moves.

''I couldn't make this as fast as I did without him,'' Samuels said. ''I knew in the back of my mind that if I could stop Bruce it would help me out tremendously going into games. Bruce showed me just about every move that guys have shown me this year. A lot of thigns they threw at me in the game I've already seen it a thousand times in practice.''

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

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