Who Will Replace LaVar?

Now that #56 is in the Redskins' rear-view mirror, the team must figure out who will replace him in the lineup.

The possibilities:

Lemar Marshall

When Arrington went down with a knee injury early in the 2004 season, Marshall stepped into his spot and played remarkably well. This past season Marshall earned the starting spot as the middle linebacker. He would be willing to switch to the outside.

''It depends what they want,'' Marshall said. ''Whatever helps the team. I like staying at [middle linebacker]. If I go to [the weakside], that's fine also but I'd rather stay at Mike.''
As for not having Arrington around, Marshall said, ''His presence will be missed. I hate to see him go, but that's the nature of the business and it happens.''

If Marshall moves, that would create another hole in the middle. Among the possibilities for a replacement there are Robert McCune, a linebacker the Redskins drafted in the fifth round last year. It was reported a couple of weeks ago that the Redskins had expressed an interest to the Baltimore Ravens in dealing for their middle linebacker, Ray Lewis. The possibility of that move taking place is slim.

Chris Clemons

One thing that Gregg Williams takes pride in is his ability to fill a hole in the defense with guys like Clemons, an undrafted free agent. He has been used mostly in pass rushing situations in his first two seasons after spending 2003 on injured reserve. He might have to add a few pounds to his 6-3, 240 frame if he is to become an every-down player.

As of now, Clemons is a restricted free agent so his contract status must be straightened out if he is to be a candidate for the job.

Warrick Holdman

He started early in the year when Arrington was benched. The kind thing to say about his play is that he didn't have much impact. In six of the seven games he started he recorded just one or two tackles and had no sacks or interceptions. He is an unrestricted free agent that the team has not expressed much interest in signing up until now. Holdman would have to be considered a long shot candidate who might come back if the team finds itself very limited by salary cap restraints.

A veteran free agent

The premium free agents at outside linebacker such as Carolina's Will Witherspoon and Julian Peterson of the 49ers may be out of the Redskins' price range and age and past injuries make neither is an ideal solution in any case. Perhaps a second-tier player such as Scott Fujita of Dallas or ex-Redskin Shawn Barber, most recently with the Chiefs, would be an affordable and good fit.

A draft pick

If the Redskins are going to go this route, they will likely take a linebacker with either their second-round pick (their first in this draft) or maybe their third. Among the prospects who may be available here are A. J. Nicholson of Florida State, Jon Alston of Stanford and James Anderson of Virginia Tech. It's difficult to envision the Redskins going this route, but if they can fill their needs at defensive end and wide receiver via free agency it's a possibility.


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