- The Washington Times - Friday, September 10, 2004

If the Washington Redskins as a whole are plenty eager to get the season started, Brandon Noble is downright giddy to be back on the field.

Though he’s been a member of the organization for 18 months, Noble has had to wait until now to make his Redskins debut. After suffering a major knee injury during the 2003 preseason, the veteran nose tackle finally gets his chance to suit up tomorrow against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“I’ve been preparing for this weekend for a long time now. A long time,” Noble said. “It was like almost a year and a half of an offseason. So I’m really looking forward to it.”

Signed to a four-year, $6.5million contract in March 2003, Noble was expected to become an anchor in the middle of the defensive line. Instead, he spent his entire first season in Washington on the injured reserve list after tearing all three major ligaments and dislocating his kneecap during a preseason game against New England.

Doctors told Noble the injury could have been career-threatening, but he returned from a massive rehab effort this summer and worked himself back into the Redskins’ regular defensive-line rotation.

“It’s a testimony for him to go through that. That was a major deal for him to bounce back from,” coach Joe Gibbs said. “He [was limited to] one-a-days in camp, but other than that I don’t think he’s missed much.”

Noble, 30, still doesn’t know if he’ll be in the starting lineup tomorrow. The Redskins’ coaching staff has yet to reveal whether Noble or fellow veteran Joe Salave’a will be on the field for the game’s first series. Either way, Noble is grateful for Salave’a’s help, because he knows his knee is still not 100 percent healthy.

“I have to understand that my leg isn’t as strong as I’d like it to be yet,” Noble said. “The rest of me feels great, [but] I haven’t played football in over a year. I have to make sure I don’t think about it, just go out and play. And I have to understand that there are going to be some things that I can’t do because of that.”

‘Tired monster’ looms

More than a few observers noticed how many Redskins seemed to be dragging as they came off the practice field yesterday. It has been a long camp, preseason and work week for Washington, and the effects seemed to be showing.

“I firmly believe our practices are so much harder than the games will be,” linebacker LaVar Arrington said this week. “I was fighting the tired monster today. He was on the field running after everybody.”

Even Gibbs didn’t look like his usual chipper self, giving only simple, terse answers during his daily post-practice press briefing.

At least one veteran, though, remained unfazed by the heavy workload and has been willing to buy into whatever demands Gibbs and his staff have come up with.

“In an NFL work week, you’re going to be tired towards the end of the week. You’ve got to prepare,” quarterback Mark Brunell said. “They’ve done it this way many times and have won many times, obviously. We’ll go out there and see how we feel, but I think we’ll be all right.”

Extra points

Middle linebacker Mike Barrow (knee tendinitis) participated in some practice drills yesterday but remains questionable for tomorrow’s game. Even if Barrow is cleared to play after missing the entire preseason, Antonio Pierce is expected to start and see extensive playing time in his place.

“He’s done a little bit this week,” Gibbs said of Barrow. “He hasn’t done much.” …

H-back Brian Kozlowski (strained calf) and safety Andre Lott (sprained knee) both practiced and remain probable. …

Wide receiver James Thrash will wear uniform No. 83 for the regular season. With an overcrowded roster before cuts were made, Thrash had been wearing No. 17 during preseason games and No. 3 during practices. …

Clinton Portis on the surprising amount of attention he got yesterday after an Internet hoax started circulating that he was injured and would miss 8-12 weeks: “I got a lot of strange phone calls.”

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide