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Arrington's Focus: Getting Healthy

His injury-plagued 2004 season now behind him, LaVar Arrington continues to focus on rehabilitating his injured right knee so that he is ready to participate in offseason workouts.

"My goal is to focus on getting healthy," Arrington said. "After that, I'll worry about everything else."

On Monday, head coach Joe Gibbs called Arrington's knee the Redskins' biggest injury concern. But Gibbs added that all indications are that Arrington's knee is improving, though Arrington may still visit the team's medical consultant, Dr. James Andrews of Birmingham, Ala., in a few weeks for another evaluation.

"When I talked to LaVar [on Monday], I said, 'Just give me how it's progressing,' and he said, 'It's definitely getting better,'" Gibbs said. "Now we want to make sure that the improvement continues to come and he feels better with it. If not, we would send him back to Dr. Andrews to let him look at the knee again just to make sure we are on the right track.

"I want to make sure we stay on top of it. He's been coming in for treatment. Our concern is that he continues to progress and that we can get him back healthy. It's a big deal for us. We lost him most of the year [last season] and I think he could make a big difference in there."

Arrington's injury-plagued 2004 season was one of frustration. He began the season on a promising note, playing in the opener against Tampa Bay and recording eight tackles and one sack of Bucs' quarterback Brad Johnson. The sack came on the last play of the game and helped secure a 16-10 win.

Arrington logged seven more tackles the following week against the New York Giants, but he continued to experience soreness in his right knee and he was diagnosed with a lateral meniscus injury. He had arthroscopic knee surgery prior to the Week 3 game against Dallas.

Arrington was expected to come back from the surgery in late October but he suffered a setback during a practice and was sidelined for another five weeks.

Arrington finally returned to action for the Dec. 18 game against San Francisco. He played in a limited role against the 49ers and in the Week 16 game against the Dallas Cowboys. But he developed some tendonitis in the knee and was sidelined for the Redskins' season finale.

"He came back and tried to play for us as best he could there," Gibbs said.

Lemar Marshall, who had never started a game prior to the 2004 season, was a solid replacement for Arrington last season. Marshall recorded 82 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 14 starts.

Arrington, who finished the 2004 campaign with 18 tackles and one sack, said he is eager to reestablish himself in Gregg Williams' defense. He watched most of the games from the sidelines and has more than a textbook understanding of the aggressive defensive schemes. But he is eager to put his knowledge into action.

The Redskins' defense finished third-best in the NFL and first in the NFC last season.

"We weren't a bad defense to begin with--I think the year before last [in 2002], we were ranked fifth," Arrington said, discussing the Redskins' defense from an broad standpoint. "So we were headed in the right direction, and Gregg Williams came in and put us in the right position to make plays."

In 2005, a new challenge awaits, Arrington added.

"It'll be a challenge for this defense to be better than we were this year," he said. "Gregg Williams is obviously doing something right. I didn't have the opportunity to be around him as much because I was rehabbing, but all of these coaches are really good teachers. They teach the system so well. I would imagine we would get better because they'd be around each other for another year."

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