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Barrow to Have 'Final MRI'; Return Close

Linebacker Mike Barrow will undergo a final MRI on his knee later this week and, if cleared by team doctors and trainers, could be ready to start more rigorous preparation for the 2005 season.

Barrow has been working with trainers on agility drills during off-season workouts at Redskins Park, head coach Joe Gibbs said.

"He'll spend a lot of time with our trainers to get him in a running program," Gibbs said. "We'll start the work back and see how he does."

Barrow, a 12-year veteran, could be a key component to the Redskins' defense next season. The defense has a void at middle linebacker due to Antonio Pierce's departure to the New York Giants.

Barrow was expected to be the starter last year, but he experienced tendonitis in his knee early in preseason and was sidelined the entire 2004 campaign.

Gibbs and assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams have mentioned Lemar Marshall and Brandon Barnes as candidates at middle linebacker. The team also drafted linebackers Robert McCune from Louisville and Jared Newberry from Stanford in last month's NFL Draft. Both McCune and Newberry have some experience playing in the middle.

Gibbs also updated the status of injured weak-side linebacker LaVar Arrington.

The Redskins' three-time Pro Bowler worked out on Wednesday and is continuing his rehabilitation from arthroscopic knee surgery last month.

"He had an excellent workout," Gibbs said. "He told me it was the best his knee has felt. He felt real good about all of the movement. We're starting to increase his workout program now."

The team continues to approach Arrington's rehabilitation with caution, Gibbs added. Arrington played in only four games last season due to a lateral meniscus injury in the knee.

On Rod Gardner, Gibbs said he is "skeptical" that Gardner will be with the team next season. The Redskins have attempted to trade the fifth-year wide receiver since the 2004 regular season came to an end.

"I don't anticipate him being here for the off-season workouts," Gibbs said. "We'll just continue to work our way through it and figure out what's the best resolution for him."

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