Washington linebacker LaVar Arrington yesterday was still basking in the glow of his first extensive action of the season Sunday in the Redskins' 52-17 rout of the San Francisco 49ers. He also was sore, he said, "but not bad sore, just sore."
Arrington, who suffered a slight hamstring strain, was on the field for about 25 defensive snaps Sunday, by far the most he has played this season. He also was the outside rush man on the punt return unit trying to put pressure on the 49ers' kicker. Arrington, who had no snaps on defense the previous two games, said he had not anticipated playing that much before the game, but was thrilled for the opportunity and looking forward to continuing the trend.
The first hint that he would play more came Thursday when Gregg Williams, assistant head coach-defense, said after practice that Arrington had made great strides in recent weeks and was looking more like the linebacker who was voted to three Pro Bowls in his first five seasons.
"I run hard every day," Arrington said. "I think I stepped it up a little the last couple of weeks of practice. I didn't know I needed to show them that. I might have done it a little quicker."
Arrington said again he was blown away by the fans' response to his on-field presence Sunday. "I may ride that all year," he said. "It was one of the best displays of support I could ever be a part of. Wow. It was flattering. I knew I had lots of support. I didn't know the whole stadium would go off. I knew [he and fans] were tight. I didn't know we were that tight. My wife said she was almost in tears."
Arrington led the Redskins' defense with nine tackles and said Coach Joe Gibbs hugged him afterward and that Williams told him, "Good start."
Asked about continued playing time for Arrington, Gibbs described him as "a work in progress and we'll see where everything leads. You just work week to week and see where he is week to week. LaVar hopefully continues to make progress and you hope he plays a lot."
Redskins defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin, who left the 49ers game with a strained hip flexor, likely will miss some practice this week, Gibbs said. Griffin said yesterday he hopes to play Sunday against the New York Giants, the team that drafted him in 2000. "I'm taking it one day at a time," he said.
Quarterback Mark Brunell, who strained his left calf in practice Thursday, indicated that he came out of the San Francisco game in decent shape. He said his leg was "a little sore" yesterday, but said "it doesn't bother me too much. I'm pleased how I came out of that."
Safety Sean Taylor (ankle) was limping as he left Redskins Park and may be held out of practice early in the week. Cornerback Carlos Rogers, who was inactive Sunday because of a sore ankle, is expected to be available.
Place kicker John Hall, out since the opener with a torn quadriceps, continues to make progress and Gibbs said the team will decide later in the week if he'll be activated.
Pizza With Your Toppings?
The Redskins and a local pizza chain have a promotion that offers a free topping for every touchdown the team scores, and double that if the team wins. Seven touchdowns equals 14 free toppings, and business apparently was brisk. One deliveryman brought 20 pizzas to Redskins Park and said: "We're getting slammed today. . . . Everybody's happy."