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Russell's Death Hits Arrington Hard

By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 17, 2005

LaVar Arrington heard of former teammate Darrell Russell's death yesterday, and did not want to believe the news.

"That one got me. It's terrible. Anyone that knew D-Russ knew he was just a genuine guy," he said. "He wasn't here very long, we used to talk a lot about him getting his life together, about him getting it right."

Russell, 29, was a former Pro Bowl defensive tackle with the Oakland Raiders who was killed early Thursday morning in Los Angeles after a high-speed crash. He was a passenger in a car driven by Michael Paul Bastianelli, a former teammate of Russell's at Southern California. Bastianelli was also killed in the crash.

Russell, the second overall pick in the 1997 draft, played for the Redskins in 2003 after he was released by the Raiders and suspended twice for violating the league's substance abuse policy. After a third suspension, Russell was suspended indefinitely by the league in 2004.

"You sit around thinking about how close things are, about how these things happen," Arrington said. "I just crashed my car the other day, so you never know. This one hurts. It really does."

Harris Happy With Role

Veteran defensive back Walt Harris said he has no difficulty being a backup to Carlos Rogers. Harris, 31, was the starting left cornerback for most of the season before being replaced by Rogers in the first half of the Nov. 27 game vs. San Diego.

"It wasn't too hard. I kind of understood the situation," Harris said.

"You've got a first-round choice and you're paying him a lot of money. Eventually, you've got to get him up there and see what he could do. So, it was something that was inevitable. I'm happy to be playing this much."

Harris said despite the level of competition, Harris was always willing to help Rogers learn in the NFL. As a veteran, he recalled being a rookie in Chicago when safety Mark Carrier did the same for him.

"You have to go out there and try to perform up to your ability," he said.

"You leave who's going to play and who is ahead of who to the coaches. You put that behind you. We're a family, so whatever I can do to help him, I'm going to do."

With Rogers questionable for tomorrow's game against the Cowboys, Harris may find himself in the starting lineup again. He started the Sept. 19 game and recorded seven solo tackles, including stopping Terry Glenn on fourth and four with 1 minute 52 seconds left at the Washington 39-yard line. The play stopped the Cowboys' drive toward a potential go-ahead score.

Tight Squeeze for Tickets

Aside from injuries to the Redskins both offensively and defensively, the biggest stir yesterday afternoon occurred when the players were told they would be allowed to purchase a maximum of four tickets for tomorrow's game. With such short notice, players scrambled to make arrangements to score more seats to the hottest ticket in town.

"I make it nice and easy," Shawn Springs said.

"I tell everyone I don't have any. Mark Brunell and I share a suite. So, that's where my people will be."

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