By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 1, 2005
On the eve of the second training camp since Joe Gibbs returned to the Washington Redskins, injuries to three top players were among the chief issues the coach discussed in a meeting with members of the media.
Linebacker LaVar Arrington, rookie cornerback Carlos Rogers and defensive lineman Brandon Noble will not be cleared to participate fully in the first practices of camp today, Gibbs said, adding, "I'm figuring they'll all be ready to go by the [start of] the regular season."
Gibbs would not commit to a preseason timetable for a return by Arrington, who is recovering from multiple knee surgeries; Noble, who is recovering from a serious infection in his knee; or Rogers, who has foot and ankle injuries.
Arrington's injury has been the most troubling, as he missed almost all of the 2004 season, suffered several setbacks during his recovery and vented his displeasure with the way the team handled his injury this offseason. Gibbs and owner Dan Snyder met with Arrington on Wednesday to repair the player's relationship with the organization and resolve a lingering contract grievance, and Gibbs said he was pleased the sides were able to address the concerns before training camp. Both sides discussed their parameters for a potential financial settlement, league sources said, and both sides were hopeful that a final total, if any, will be agreed upon. The only issue left to be resolved is whether the Redskins will give Arrington any money.
"I thought we had a good discussion," Gibbs said of the meeting with Arrington, his attorney and representatives from the NFL Players Association. "Hopefully, we'll wind up having something resolved here."
Arrington, a three-time Pro Bowl performer, is still unable to sprint fully -- "The only thing he's been limited on has been real sprints," Gibbs said, but said there is "no real swelling," and he should be cleared to practice fully in the "near future." The team initially believed Arrington would be healed by training camp, but is taking every precaution to avoid future problems.
Noble, who often started at defensive tackle last season, and Rogers, one of the team's two unsigned first-round draft picks who was expected to compete for the nickel back spot, are both recovering well, Gibbs said, and there are no long-term concerns about their injuries.
Quarterback Jason Campbell, the other unsigned first-round draft pick, could have his deal completed today. The Redskins continued to negotiate with Campbell and Rogers, selected 25th and ninth overall, respectively, and while Gibbs said he did not anticipate a lengthy absence for either player, he was more optimistic about Campbell being signed by today.
Negotiations with Rogers have been slowed by the lack of signings in the top 10 of the NFL draft overall, Gibbs said, and the agents for Campbell and Rogers were waiting for the market to settle before entering the heavy stages of negotiations. Green Bay signed quarterback Aaron Rodgers, selected 24th overall, to a contract Saturday night, and Gibbs believes that signing will expedite talks with Campbell.
"I think Jason should go quickly," Gibbs said.
While Joel Segal, Campbell's agent, said a deal might not be in place in time for the first practice, significant progress was made in negotiating sessions yesterday.
Rogers's situation is more complicated. He was the third cornerback selected and, with all of them unsigned as of last night, the level of compensation due him remained murky. Although Rogers's injury would keep him out of drills anyway, Gibbs said it is still important to get him signed swiftly and did not anticipate a lengthy delay. "I don't expect any kind of protracted thing," Gibbs said.
The Redskins are one of the last teams to report for training camp -- the Chicago Bears have been in camp since July 23 -- and have only a few two-a-day training sessions scheduled in the first two weeks of August. Gibbs said that structure was adopted as a reward for the team's hard work during a long offseason training program, and that other practices could be canceled as well should that work ethic continue as expected. Fans are allowed to attend the second session today -- beginning at 4 p.m. at Redskins Park -- but the morning practice is closed to the public.
Gibbs has raved about the overall attendance in the offseason program -- safety Sean Taylor, who chatted with Gibbs on Saturday and checked in at Redskins Park yesterday, was the most notable consistent absence -- and continued to praise those efforts during yesterday's news conference. Gibbs and his offensive staff spent much of the last six months retooling their offense, which was ranked 30th in the NFL last year, and diversifying.
The team has added two starting wide receivers (Santana Moss and David Patten), a center (Casey Rabach) and introduced the shotgun and more multiple-receiver sets, while also tailoring the running schemes more to the liking of running back Clinton Portis. Quarterback Patrick Ramsey, who began last season as the backup, is the starter entering camp, and Gibbs said he was encouraged by Ramsey's progress in the offseason.
"I've just been preparing for this for so long," Ramsey said, "and I think it's time. I'm excited about it."
Redskins Notes: With linebackers Mike Barrow and Antonio Pierce departed and Arrington injured, Gibbs said Warrick Holdman would start at weak-side linebacker for today's practice and Lemar Marshall would play in the middle, with Pro Bowler Marcus Washington returning to the strong side. . . . H-back Brian Kozlowski, who played sparingly last season, re-signed with the team yesterday.