Trotter strengthens LBs

The Redskins already had two Pro Bowl linebackers. And they had a solid one in the middle with Kevin Mitchell. They didn't need Jeremiah Trotter; but they had to have him. Now they have one of the best linebacking units in the NFL. Or so they hope.

With Trotter, LaVar Arrington and Jessie Armstead, the Redskins have three Pro Bowlers. There's reason for optimism. Just don't expect defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis to get carried away.

''Everyone keeps talking about this linebacking corps, but they're all defensive players,'' Redskins defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis said. ''I don't care what they play. What they've done in the past doesn't mean anything. We don't get any points for that.''

But, with Trotter, they'll probably surrender fewer points. In the two-time Pro Bowler, Washington gets an every-down linebacker. He entered the league as an outside linebacker from Stephen F. Austin who needed to learn how to play the middle.

He also developed into a solid third-down linebacker, at times covering tight ends and backs. That's something few middle linebackers can do. That's not all he does.

''What sets Trot apart is he's like a lineman-type linebacker,'' Eagles defensive end Hugh Douglas told the Delaware County Times in January. ''He blows up a lot of guys. He blows up guards. Sometimes tackles. You don't really see those other cats doing that. You see them killing running backs. You see them killing quarterbacks. Trot kills linemen--and quarterbacks and running backs. He's like TNT. He kills everybody.''

He, and the other two linebackers, also excite their teammates. Especially those who play in front of them.

''You've got all those linebackers coming downhill to make plays,'' defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson said, ''therefore, double teams can't stay on me as long as they normally like to. That will free me up a lot more. Without a doubt I'm excited.''

Trotter said, ''The less attention you draw to yourself the better. I know these guys [Armstead and Arrington] will mess up some offensive schemes and that will draw attention away from me.''

But the more plays they make, the more attention will focus on the three linebackers. Not that they're already making grand predictions of their impact.

''I don't want to get caught up in all that,'' Trotter said. ''You still have to put up the numbers. And it's not just about the linebackers. We have two of the best corners in the league. When you've got guys behind you like that, it makes everyone else better.''

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