Every time an NFL quarterback lines up against the Washington Redskins, he instinctively looks for No. 56 on defense. Locating outside linebacker LaVar Arrington is always an opposing quarterback's number one priority.
But if the first three days of Redskins' training camp are any indication, quarterbacks also will have to look at the other side of the field. New strongside linebacker Marcus Washington, acquired in March as an unrestricted free agent from the Indianapolis Colts, has been wreaking havoc in scrimmage drills, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said Monday.
"People better keep their eyes on No. 53 [Washington's jersey number] around here," Williams said. "He's a big-time player. He was a very important signee for us this year. He has been dominant in practices."
Arrington is just as happy about the acquisition of Washington. Arrington, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, was able to move from the strong side to weak side after Washington joined the team. The Redskins also are using Arrington as a stand-up defensive end, allowing him to rush the quarterback often. Arrington had 11 sacks in 2002, the most by an NFL linebacker that season.
Jeremiah Trotter played weakside linebacker the past two season, leaving Arrington on the strong side, where he often had to battle tight ends and was double-teamed.
"We finally got us a strongside linebacker," Arrington said. "I like the way they're using me now."
Williams said he likes the way Arrington is adapting to the weak side.
"This may be his best year," Williams said. "We hope this year is the best year of his career because of the way we're going to use him."
Washington, 6 feet 3 and 247 pounds, had 97 tackles and six sacks for the Colts last season. The four-year pro's best season was in 2001, when he had 119 tackles and eight sacks.
"[Coach Williams] is going to turn me loose a little bit, take the chain off of me a little bit, let me go after the quarterback," Washington said. "It's going to be a lot of fun."