AP: Arrington, others make 'Skins camp debut
[b]ASHBURN, Va. - [/b]LaVar Arrington stretched his leg by pushing against the goal post padding, gingerly handled his first 1-on-1 blocking drill, appeared to limp slightly at times and took part in only a couple of plays during the 9-on-9 drills.
Even so, it was practice, and Arrington was taking part. The three-time Pro Bowl linebacker put on his helmet and shoulder pads Monday for the first time at this year's training camp, joining Carlos Rogers and Brandon Noble as the Washington Redskins welcomed back three key members of their defense.
"It's exciting to me," coach Joe Gibbs said, "because we're getting back some high quality players that have been missing for a while."
Arrington wore a black sleeve on his right knee, evidence of an injury that has hampered him for nearly a year and caused him to publicly criticize team officials. Rogers, the No. 9 overall pick in April's draft, worked at cornerback with the starting unit, backpedalling with ease and showing no sign of his ankle injury. Defensive lineman Noble was a little winded but otherwise looked fine in his return after an unusually harsh development - a serious infection that developed in his knee after minor surgery.
All three were cleared to practice after passing their required physicals and were removed from the team's active-physically unable to perform list.
"It feels good," Noble said. "To sit around and watch gets old. To run sprints get real old, so to be out there on the field was a bit of a relief today."
Rogers and Noble spoke at length about their recoveries, but Arrington wasn't sharing much at all. He's been having another one of his media boycotts, and all he would say as he walked off the field through a scrum of reporters was an innocuous series of statements such as "I'm pretty excited" and "I take it day by day."
Arrington's participation was by far the most limited of the three returnees, even though his comeback was the most long awaited. The injury came when he tore some cartilage in his knee in the 2004 season-opening win over Tampa Bay, and he was supposed to miss only a few weeks after his surgery. Discovery of a deep bone bruise delayed his return. He eventually came back for two games in December but was ineffective in a limited role and was placed on injured reserve before the season finale against Minnesota.
Arrington had a second surgery in April, and a few days later he lashed out at the Redskins organization for the way his injuries were handled. He and Gibbs later met to try to resolve their differences, but Arrington hasn't spoken to reporters since. Arrington is also in a dispute with the team over a $6.5 million bonus he claims was left out of his contract.
Such weighty matters didn't matter once he walked onto the field to join his teammates, who joked with him by saying things like "Who's the new guy?"
"LaVar's a player that plays with so much enthusiasm that it just spreads throughout an entire team," linebacker Marcus Washington said. "Guys like that make practice go a little easier."
Rogers severely sprained and bruised his ankle while working out at Auburn in June. A stress fracture was found in the leg while he was being treated, but the injury was old and not considered significant. He more than held his own Monday, fending off starting receivers Santana Moss and David Patten.
"I did better than I thought," Rogers said. "I though I was going to thinking about my ankle, but it felt good out there."
Noble's routine surgery on his right knee in April turned into a nightmare with an infection that required six weeks of energy-sapping antibiotics. He has spent the last few weeks simply trying to get back in shape. Noble has overcome substantial knee injuries two years in a row - he had reconstructive surgery on the left knee in 2003 and missed the entire season.
"It was an interesting experience," Noble said. "You learn a lot about your knee, and I can pretty much rehab any knee up there."
Rogers is expected to play Friday against Cincinnati. The prospects for Arrington and Noble are less certain.
"We'll see how they do tomorrow," trainer Bubba Tyer said. "They had a good start, though."
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