HEAD COACH JOE GIBBS
On LaVar Arrington (LB, #56):
"We would hope we never have injuries in football. We certainly don't want them. It's our dream to be able to go through an injury-free year. But it is a contact sport and from time to time we get injuries. One of the most important things is the medical team we have here. I can honestly say there isn't a medical team out there that's as capable as we have in talking about Ray Thal, Tony Casolaro and Jim Andrews. Those are some of the top people in sports medicine. Here Bubba (Tyer) heads up the team with John Burrell and our training department."
"LaVar is hugely important to this football team just like every other player here. It's personal to us. We want what's best for them. Never do we encourage anyone to play when they're hurt. You never do that in modern day sports. I wouldn't do it or be a part of it and neither would our training department. We have the highest quality doctors that we work in concert with. You have someone like LaVar who is very important to the Redskins and his future is very important to the Redskins. The number one thing for us is to always be looking to the future and what's best for the Redskins and for the person.
"When LaVar got hurt, we thought it was going to be a five week injury. He had that meniscus surgery and to his credit he tried to play in the Giant game up there and felt like it was going to agitate it. Sometimes you can play on those things but in this case we felt like it was time to have surgery. We sent him to Dr. Andrews who we think is one of the best in the world. Dr. Andrews from that point on has always been involved in every part of LaVar's rehab, looking at it, staying after it and our whole medical team here has. We thought it would be a five week deal, so we kept him active because we felt like he was going to bounce back at some point in there. Then we detected a bone bruise about three weeks after the surgery. There's no real medical reason why it would happen but every now and then you can get a bone bruise on the end of the joint. When it shows up you have to be extremely cautious and we were. Again, we took the very cautious approach and said LaVar was going to rest this thing for quite a while. So he didn't play for awhile.
"To be truthful, during the first part of the year, LaVar got upset with me because he wanted to play and I said to him that's what's best for him and his future and we have to be cautious about this. We can't do it until we think you're ready to go. Which consequently went down to about three weeks left in the season and we thought that any point in there it might be a point where he could play. With three weeks to go the medical team and everybody said he was at a point where he could play. So he played, played a limited amount and seemed to do pretty good. We tried again the next week in San Francisco and after that game it didn't do as well. We think it's now better to not play in the last game and start in with off-season rehab. We did start into the off-season realizing we did have a lot of time and felt like we'd be in real good shape. LaVar would have good days--some days that were great and he was making real good progress--and then he would have days when he didn't feel as good. It was a pattern that developed.
"One day LaVar came to me and said he had a great work out and to go check with the trainers. He came in the following Monday and didn't feel as good after a work out. So we felt at that point that maybe we should have Dr. Andrews look at it again. He put a small device in there where you could look at the knee joint. We did that and what he saw was some scar tissue and some small particles he thought he should take out, clean out. When I talked to him right after the surgery that evening for about 45 minutes, we discussed everything about it, what we thought LaVar needed to do for rehab and take the conservative approach. When we reviewed the surgery, the good parts are when he looked at the bone bruise, looked at the joint and every other part of it, his knee looks real healthy which is great. The particles will cause some irritation which is why he'd have some good days and some bad days. Bottom line, none of us wanted that to happen again. Jim then told me we are going to take a very conservative approach to this and put him on crutches. In a period of one to two weeks, he'll come off the crutches. It would then be good for us to spend two months without LaVar doing any hard running. He can do other things and that way we think he's going to be ready for preseason and next year."
"In saying all that, I haven't had a chance to speak with LaVar (since yesterday). We scheduled to have a talk to Dr. Andrews. Me and Bubba, Dr. Andrews and LaVar are going to sit and go over what we think is the best rehab procedure for him. What I'm emphasizing is the way it all went. If anything, we were over conservative here and we always err on that side."
"I don't know if LaVar was upset yesterday. He's a very competitive person and doesn't like the idea that he's had two set backs now with his knee. And neither do we, we don't like it but sometimes its things we just have to deal with. We are going to do the best we can to work our way through that."
On if he was surprised by the comments Arrington made to the media:
"Yes, I was. I'm going to talk to him today. I don't know whether he was upset by the current set back but I don't really know since I haven't had the chance to visit with him about it. I talked to him last night on the phone after he left the building. I recanted some of the things that happened last year and he agreed with me."
"I think there's total frustration on LaVar's part, along with ours, from a standpoint that here's a great football player who was unable to play almost all of last year because he was hurt. I know it's frustrating because it's not the sort of injury where you can say hey I broke a bone or I fixed this, we don't know how a bone bruise crept up and there's no real medical reason why they do show up. It's frustrated him and frustrated us so he probably vented some things yesterday. I'm anxious to talk to him. I think he knows everything that happened last year and the way we were cautious about it. He knows himself and frustration set in because of the fact he's been hurt for so long and hasn't been able to be a part of the football team the way he wants to be."
On if Arrington's frustrations arise because of his changing role on the team (3rd ranked defense without him):
"First of all, he is extremely important to the Redskins. In today's football, money is not the important thing, it's the person. Certainly, the amount of the salary cap that is devoted to LaVar tells you how important he is to the Redskins. He's hugely important to us. We want to do everything we can to get him back. If you stop and think about it, it doesn't make good sense to jeopardize his chances of playing a long time with the Redskins."
On if he thinks Arrington has a secure relationship with the coaching staff:
"Obviously, we are very proud of our defensive staff. They did play extremely well last year but we need him back out there. His play can help you step to a whole other level. Everyone here knows that. We've all been frustrated to a certain extent by his injury. Certainly a lot of our other guys too: Matt Bowen was off to one of the best starts anybody had last year and got hurt. We had to go through a thing with Phillip Daniels, the first time he has been substantially hurt for an entire year. You see these guys are totally frustrated. They want to play. They want to help the team. That's understandable. But hopefully, in LaVar's case, we want to deal with him from the standpoint of letting him know how important he is: the fact that he's here in the off season and going through the meetings and everything. There's a lot we can do mentally even though he's not going to be out on the field."
On if selecting a linebacker becomes a possibility in the upcoming draft:
"I would think that you would always be looking at the areas where you feel like you have had a loss and if you are trying to evaluate you want to be deep and certainly at linebacker. We think we have some options there. You never know what is going to happen in the draft. I don't ever count on the draft because so much can happen there. Certainly we are looking at every opportunity that we can to help ourselves at linebacker."
On the grievance filed by LaVar Arrington:
"Setting the date for that is up to the union and the league. We don't set that date. It is out of our hands. We are just ready from this side of it to present what we think would be the Redskins statement on the issues at the meeting. It is out of our hands. We are not the ones who set that and we certainly have not been the ones to push it back."
On Sean Taylor and Santana Moss not being here for the voluntary workouts:
"Obviously our approach is that both guys have contracts and certainly Sean's deal was signed last year and it's a long term contract. We want our players to be here. This is very important to us. It is not mandatory and we can not make it mandatory but it is a critical time for us. If you stop and think about it guys are paid, in some cases a lot of money, and they make a commitment to you when they sign that this is part of the agreement. The preparation you can make here in the off season is super important to the regular season for this point, in today's football we are going to come to camp, scrimmage in a week, and play our first preseason game in two weeks. We don't have time to get people in shape and get people mentally prepared and so the off season is critical to that. The union understands it and signed off to it. We have shorter pre seasons and we have more work to do in the off season. It is a part of what happens in today's football."
"For me personally, just to let everybody know out there, we try and use and operate around here on common sense. What I have tried to do is condense all the work into Tuesday's, Wednesday's and Thursday's with one other voluntary workout in there for the players. We try to condense the time that they are here to the absolute minimum time that we can. We are trying to use common sense there and get our work in on those three days and one other optional weight training day."
"Having said all of that our deal is that if our players have contracts with us we want them to be here. In Santana's case I have talked to him numerous times. I think Santana wants to be here. It is just one of those things where you are trying to work through a process there and you have that side of it. We are trying to work through a process to get him here. In Sean's case he has a long term contract here and certainly we want him to be here. What we are trying to do there is encourage him to come and do everything we can to work through that process."
On Sean Taylor and his first season with the Redskins:
"Sean has had a terrific football background and a great relationship with almost everyone down in Miami when he was there. Last year we wound up having a rocky first year. There were some things there that I know Sean wish had not have happened and we wished had not have happened. But I think the process there is that we tried to work through each one of those and make the best decision we could when it did happen. I think the lesson has been learned there I hope. There is not a frustration. I guess you could say what we are trying to do here is to get Sean settled down here and be a part of this team. That is our desire for him and that is what we want for him. Sometimes in life you have to deal with things and in this case we have to deal with something that we don't particularly want to but we are going to. We are going to go through this the best we can and I am hoping that any day here he is going to show up."