With Smoot out, Redskins turn to 'Lord Farquaad'

Updated: October 17, 2003, 11:17 AM ET
ESPN

ASHBURN, Va. -- LaVar Arrington bellowed a not-so-nice nickname for the Washington Redskins newest starting cornerback: "Lord Farquaad."

"LaVar?" Rashad Bauman said Thursday when told about the nickname. "You know that's the ugliest guy on the team. You can't take that personally."

Lord Farquaad, for those not familiar with animated blockbuster movies, is the short guy from "Shrek." And Bauman, generously listed at 5-foot-8, is one of the shortest players on the Redskins roster.

The Redskins will need Bauman to stand tall against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, when he replaces injured starter Fred Smoot.

"It's not really a big deal to me anymore," said Bauman, offering an apparently unintentional pun. "I guess when you're in the Little Leagues, Pop Warner, high school, college, size is really the thing -- because you want to get to the NFL, and all the NFL talks about is size, size.

"But at the same time anybody can play football as long as you know the game. Sometimes you need those big cars that go fast, but at the same time you need that sports car that can hug the corners."

Smoot broke his sternum in Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay and could miss several games, giving Bauman his first full game in a starter's role. Technically, the league will count it as Bauman's second NFL start because he was on the field when the defense opened in a nickel package in a game late last season.

With three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey drawing the assignment of covering Eric Moulds -- assuming Moulds' groin injury heals sufficiently before Sunday -- Bauman expects to have his hands full with receivers Bobby Shaw and Josh Reed as the Bills pick on the less experienced defender.

"I know that I've got the best in the world on the other side of me, so why try him?" Bauman said. "That's just common sense. They're going to come at me, and hopefully I'll step up."

Other than his height, Bauman is so far best known as the answer to a trivia question meant only for Redskins die-hards: Which player finally sent Darrell Green to the bench for an entire game?

A third-round pick from Oregon a year ago, Bauman spent his rookie season in a logjam behind Bailey, Smoot and Green. Green was playing nickel back in his 20th and final season, so Bauman had no delusions about getting instant playing time.

"It seemed like I had Champ on one side of the corner, Fred on another side of the corner, Darrell in the slot," Bauman said. "Where are you going to go? I had to learn to wait for my time."

It came sooner than expected. To the surprise of many, then-defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis promoted Bauman ahead of Green for the Thanksgiving game at Dallas. For the first time in his career, Green didn't play a single down on defense.

Green took it hard, but he didn't take it out on Bauman. The vet continued to tutor the rookie, offering lessons Bauman won't forget.

"You can always learn something from D-Green, whether it's on the field, off the field," Bauman said. "D-Green taught me a lot about patience. If I can develop some of that, it'll help my season go a lot smoother."

On Wednesday night, Green called Bauman to wish him luck.

"You don't have to change when you get under the lights," said Bauman, reciting Green's advice. "It's just like any other day. You go out there and put your best foot forward."

While Bauman will try to fill Smoot's shoes, he realizes there's one thing he can't replace: Smoot's motor mouth. The defensive huddle has been much quieter this week.

"Fred is a little more flashy, flamboyant," Bauman said. "And I'm a little bit more aggressive, a little old school. I really don't do too much of the dress-up stuff. I just go out there and play ball to the best of my ability."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index