Up close and personal with LaVar

A disappointing season preceded a breakout year for LaVar Arrington. Now the Redskins Pro Bowl linebacker is setting his sights even grander than Hawaii. This season, Arrington dreams of being named the NFL's Defensive MVP. ''I'm going all out for it,'' he said. ''I'm going all out. I'm not afraid to admit that. That's what I'm working for. That's a personal goal of mine and I think it's a realistic goal so I'll go for it.''

Q: How is the way you'll be used similar to how you were used in
college?

A: The cool thing is [former Penn State defensive coordinator] Jerry
Sandusky and Coach Lewis are in good cohoots so they run a similar
scheme. It worked for me in college so we'll see what happens. I have a
firm belief and confidence that Coach Lewis will get me in a position to
make some plays.

Q: Do you feel more freedom on the field? Are they giving you that?
A: Now I know this is how it was at Penn State because the funny thing
was, I got the rap that I was a freelancer and I'm getting all of that
right now. It's pretty nice to hear people say I'm a freelancer again.
If you guys sit and wonder where LaVar is at, just think the offense is
doing the same thing. It'll be fun.

Q: Will we see you leaping over linemen?
A: I'm pretty confident this year. I know what I'm doing. When you know
what's going on and where to be and what things to do, you're always
able to do different things athletically. I know where to be so now I
can concentrate on, 'How am I going to beat this block? What will I do
to make SportsCenter?'

Q: How do you like all the changes now, from Jeremiah Trotter to Marvin
Lewis?

A: It's one of those things that you understand it's a business first,
unforunate or fortunate, and who knows what the right answe is. It's
almost like having a death in your family. You hate to see it happen and
it hurts but you have to go on. I can't sit and pout that my best guy is
not out there on the other side with me. As far as Kevin Mitchell going
to second string, I can't pout about that. If it's going to be an
upgrade, you have to accept that. You have to be men about it. There's a
good cast here. I like the team that's being assembled.

Q: Did it take you time to accept the business aspect?
A: It's hard. Shawn and I talk all the time. I still worry that he'll
come back to bite us. But as long as he's OK. . . He didn't want to
leave, but he' in Philly now and that's the reality of it. I guess it
was a blessing for me to not have him out there last year. It migth be
selfish but I got used to him not being out there with me. You still
hate to see it.  I was looking forward to coming back and proving that
we're one of the best linebacking tandems in the game. But plans have
changed. Now I'm going for the best linebacking corps in the NFL. As
long as we're striving for something that is the best. I think we can do
it. With the leadership we have, we'll be fine.

Q: Do you approach Marco's situation the same way?
A: Marco has been not only a good player on the field and a leader, but
he's been a pillar in the locker room. If he gets cut, like I said it
hurts and you hate to see it happen, especially with someone who was
here when I came here. At the same time you understand it's a business
first.

Q: Do you have a nickname for this linebacking unit?
A: Once we get them pads on we'll figure out what our distinction will
be. I just call our defense a whole bunch of killers anyway. If someone
throws it down, you've got to get up. Don't let no one see you get
thrown down because we're some killers. That's what we're out here for.

Q: What's different about rushing from end in the NFL as opposed to
college?

A: It was a matter of me feeling comfortable. I'm feeling real
comfortable coming off the edge. I don't think it's being a technician
from the outside or the tackles being so much better that I can't get
free. I think that the more I go into a game situation adn the
confidence I ahve now, that it will be all different. I know everyone
will see a difference in my game this year because I'm knowledgable
about what's going on. I'm seeing tendencies a whole lot better. My film
study has become a whole lot better so I feel my game is developing. I'm
so confident that I know for a fact people will see a difference in my
game this year.

Q: What things can you spot on film that you couldn't even last season?
A: It wasn't that I couldn't spot them, it's just that maybe I didn't
know to look for them. It's just different set stances, just how you can
read a demeanor. If a tight end is blocking or running a route you can
see it in his body language what he's going to do and you can look for
it. There are different tendencies with different people. But, watching
it on film, sometimes I'll see if a tight end is going to run a route
he's a lot lower than what he would be if he's coming off and blocking
the end or if he's going to block the strongside linebacker. With a
tackle, you can pay attention to the way his feet are. Sometimes you
can't see it on tape but you can see it enough to tell whether it'll be
a quick dropback or a hunkered down to come make a pull or something
like that. I've just started noticing more things. I haven't had any
veterans at my position since I've been in the NFL--proven vets. Eddie
Mason and Kevin and Shawn did a lot to help my game and I appreciate it,
but Jessie has been around.

Q: What has he talked to you about already?
A: Just with the different tendencies, looking for different things.
More and more me and Bruce Smith talk whenver we're around one another.
It's obvious that I went through a scrubbing year because of how
different my interaction is with all the guys right now. I'm having fun
with it, just learning. I'm a student and always will be a student so
I'm always learning from those guys.

Q: What's scrubbing?
A: They didn't even have to do anything where everyone could see it. It
was just the whole communication thing. They didn't talk to us. The old
school guys didn't talk too much. I realize that now because me and
Bruce have become friends and that's all we do is talk trash and have a
good time. I didn't have that when I first got here. I'm enjoying it. I
enjoy the fact that the respect is there now and they trust me and that
makes all the difference.

Q: Do you think about being the defensive MVP of the NFL?
A: Yes. I'm going all out for it. I'm going all out. I'm not afraid to
admit that. That's what I'm working for. That's a personal goal of mine
and I think it's a realistic goal so I'll go for it. If I get that,
we're doing something right. Then at least we'll be in the playoffs or
something. That's the major goal: get into the postseason.

Q: What have you noticed about Jeremiah Trotter?
A: I didn't know he was that big. I watched some Philly tape to see how
he moves. Now I understand why he's such a good run stopper. His base, he's just a run stopper. He's built like a run stopper. That shocked me.
I knew he came hard into the hole. Sometimes you sit and look at him and
think, 'Why didn't I get that type of result when I hit the hole?' I
might stop guys or plug it up but you won't see a bunch of guys flying
around. I'm a one-on-one hitter. If I get one guy, I'm all right. But
hitting those linemen is a little different and seeing how he's built,
that caught me. Even at the Pro Bowl I never paid attention to it. Then
I'm out here looking around and I was like, 'Jessie, Jeremiah is a big
boy!' He's going to open it up for us. To add an extra person who can
take out a lineman or a defensive tackle or defensive end always will
make my game better because I'm going to come in and clean it up.


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