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Barrow Brings Veteran Experience

After nearly six weeks as a free agent, Michael Barrow finally found himself a new home on Friday when he was introduced as the Redskins' new middle linebacker.

During an introductory press conference at Redskins Park, Barrow was asked about his decision process in becoming a Redskin. He was asked about playing at the University of Miami (Fla.). And he was asked about playing against his former team, the New York Giants, next season.

Finally, the question on everybody's mind was asked:

Winslow or Taylor?

Barrow and head coach Joe Gibbs both laughed. With the NFL Draft less than 24 hours away, most everybody's mind was on the two players, University of Miami (Fla.) prospects Sean Taylor and Kellen Winslow, Jr., who are frequently mentioned as potential Redskin draft picks on Saturday.

"The draft isn't my call," Barrow laughed. "But I think you can't go wrong with anyone from the University of Miami (Fla.). You talk about Quarterback U, Linebacker U--I always felt like we were NFL U, between myself, Ray Lewis, Clinton Portis, Jeremy Shockey. So you can't go wrong with either one of those guys."

The Redskins hope the addition of the 6-2, 245-pound middle linebacker helps solidify a defensive unit that could have at least four new starters next season. An 11-year NFL veteran, Barrow has had stints with the New York Giants (2000-03), Carolina Panthers (1997-99) and Houston Oilers (1993-96).

In Houston, he was been coached by Gregg Williams, currently the Redskins' assistant head coach-defense, and in New York, he worked with DeWayne Walker, currently the Redskins' secondary coach.

That familiarity played a factor in his signing in Washington. As with most free agents the team is interested in, Gibbs put on the hard sell.

"I actually feel like I felt coming out of high school--I feel like I've been recruited all over again," he said.

"I'm looking forward to playing here. Everyone knows that whenever you play the Redskins, you have to buckle up. You can't bring any paper plates to this party."

Barrow led the New York Giants in tackles the last three seasons--and posted a career high with 177 tackles (122 solo) last year. When the Giants made a coaching change, they decided to revamp their defense. Barrow was released.

"I've never had the chance to go back and play against a team I used to play for," Barrow said. "That'll be exciting--playing there for four years and knowing the talent they bring to the table with guys like Jeremy Shockey and Tiki Barber, I'm looking forward to going up against them."

Barrow is expected to replace Jeremiah Trotter, who has been authorized by team officials to seek a trade.

"Michael's different for a 34-year-old guy because he's legendary for what he does in taking care of his body and working out," Gibbs said. "We rated him very high on his physical. Some guys who are 34 are young--and we think he's one of those guys. We feel real good about that."

Said Barrow: "When people ask me about that, I ask 'When you look at me on the field and on film, what do you see?' I'm still going strong. I think I'll get tired mentally before I get tired physically. I feel like I'm in the prime of my life."

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