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Arenas cleared to practice but fearful

Guard Gilbert Arenas, who has been out since Nov. 17 with a left knee injury, said team doctors told him last night that he is now cleared to practice at full speed. However, Arenas said he is still trying to get over the mental block of what happened to him earlier this season when he tried to return from his first surgery.

Arenas played in eight games but was bothered by swelling and pain in the knee and shut it down after a game at Minnesota on Nov. 16. On Nov. 21, he underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of the left meniscus and on a non-weight bearing bone on the side of the knee. Arenas originally tore the left meniscus last April 4 in game against Charlotte and underwent season-ending knee surgery a few days later.

The team confirmed that Arenas has been cleared to practice but said no date has been set for his return to game action. Arenas said he will practice at full speed for the first time tomorrow.

"I've been cleared to practice and play," said Arenas. "Right now, it's just getting in shape. It's more mental. I'm actually scared to play right now. I think that's where we're at right now so I'm looking at it game by game. I think I'm scared to go out there right now. I just need to go through these practices and get my rhythm back. I'm still going to try and take it slow."

Still, Arenas said he is reluctant to push himself too quickly.

"I don't want to get hurt again," Arenas said. "Two injuries back-to-back kind of messes with a guy mentally. I took a long time, I rehabbed very well and I don't want another setback. Mentally, I don't want to go through that again. I'm just going to take it slow, work out with the team and just build up the confidence mentally."

The Wizards (29-30) have 23 games remaining and are currently in sixth-place in the Eastern Conference. Arenas has been playing games of one-on-one with teammates and has also run through plays with the coaching staff but has yet to go through a contact practice. Arenas said how the knee responds to practices will determine when he will return to game action.

The Wizards close the month with a challenging five-game road trip against Western Conference opponents.
"Hopefully, I'm playing before we go west," Arenas said. "I really don't know how long it's going to take. Right now, I can just do my part by practicing."

By Ivan Carter  |  March 3, 2008; 4:56 PM ET
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