Washington Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington got a little fired up watching his alma mater, Penn State, drub Wisconsin late Saturday afternoon, and his enthusiasm bubbled over during a meeting of the defense that night when he delivered an impassioned speech to his teammates and offered up a new nickname for the defensive unit.
"We're 'The U,' the defensive unit," he said after practice yesterday. "We 'The U'. That's kind of a cool thing."
Arrington said he told his teammates that he wanted them to return to the enthusiasm and passion they experienced in college.
The Penn State victory "was my inspiration," Arrington said. "Did you see that game? Unbelievable. I was so proud to be a Nittany Lion. That was unreal, watching that on television. I felt like I was at the game. I'm sitting there running around my house, pushing my brother out of the way and stuff like that, jumping up. I was calling out the audibles and everything."
Teammate Marcus Washington was impressed with Arrington's talk.
"He wanted us to bring the same intensity you see in college," he said. "You're playing because you love it. The energy, the enthusiasm you see college teams play with. Just that pride, not that I'm over here for myself, but that closeness, that brotherhood, that pride."
Quarterback Mark Brunell was one of six players held out of practice yesterday, but Coach Joe Gibbs insisted it was simply a precaution to give Brunell's sore calf another day of rest. Brunell also missed last Friday's practice because of the calf, and it apparently tightened up slightly in the Redskins' victory Sunday over Philadelphia.
Brunell, listed as probable to play Sunday at Tampa Bay on the team's injury report, also was sporting a shiner under his right eye, courtesy of Eagles defensive end Jevon Kearse.
"It was one of my early passes," Brunell said. "There was nothing there. I took off to run and Jevon Kearse got his hand in there." Brunell said his sight was not affected.
"If he didn't have the calf situation, he would have practiced," Gibbs said. "He played extremely well. . . . The game was very physical and he got some hits. Quarterback-wise, the odds that we can go through the year like that and keep the guy healthy. . . . I hope we can keep him healthy."
The Redskins listed three players as questionable for Sunday: defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin (hip), safety Omar Stoutmire (hamstring) and defensive lineman Cedric Killings (ankle). Killings practiced, but Griffin and Stoutmire, both of whom were inactive against the Eagles, were held out.
Defensive ends Phillip Daniels (ankle) and Joe Salave'a (foot) and safety Sean Taylor (ankle) also were held out of practice, but all three were listed as probable. Offensive tackle Chris Samuels also was listed as probable with a sore knee but was able to participate in the first major practice of the week.
Tampa Bay listed three players as questionable -- wide receiver Michael Clayton (knee), safety Dexter Jackson (hamstring) and running back Michael Pittman (shoulder). Rookie running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, who has been bothered by a sore foot in recent weeks, was not on the Bucs' injury report yesterday.