- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Washington Redskins defensive tackle Brandon Noble will be out at least four to six weeks following arthroscopic surgery on his left knee yesterday in Charlotte, N.C.

Noble missed all of 2003 following career-threatening reconstructive surgery on the knee but returned to play every game last season. Noble, 31, was sidelined for the first two weeks of training camp this summer after having his right knee scoped and developing a subsequent staph infection.

Redskins director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer said the surgeon cleaned out some torn cartilage and discovered an underlying bone bruise — the latter the same kind of injury that severely extended linebacker LaVar Arrington’s rehabilitation after a knee scope last fall.

Noble already was playing behind Joe Salave’a, with whom he shared right tackle last year. With Noble out, the Redskins are left with the relatively untested Ryan Boschetti and Cedric Killings behind starters Cornelius Griffin and Salave’a.

Meanwhile, safety Ryan Clark, who missed the first game of his four-year career Sunday because of a sprained left knee, returned to practice. So did linebacker Chris Clemons, who was sidelined for the opener because of a pulled hamstring. Both should be ready for the game at Dallas on Monday night.

Thrash replaces Brown

After a poor preseason, Antonio Brown sealed his exit Tuesday by setting up Chicago’s only points in the opener when he fumbled the second-half kickoff after a 16-yard return. Although starting receiver Santana Moss is sixth all-time in punt returns with a 12.0-yard average during his four years with the New York Jets, the Redskins are replacing Brown with backup receiver James Thrash.

“Anytime I can get out there I’m excited,” said Thrash, who replaced the injured Chad Morton as Washington’s punt returner in Week 7 of 2004 before giving way to Brown in Week 14.

Thrash has averaged just 8.1 yards on 20 returns since 2000 and hasn’t returned a punt (even in preseason) since being relieved by Brown. Gibbs said using Moss on punt returns remains an option but only in spot situations the way Darrell Green once was.

“You want to use Santana, but it’s a heavy load,” said Gibbs, who noted that Moss needed an IV at halftime Sunday when he suffered cramps. After catching three balls for 81 yards in the first half, Moss caught just one 15-yard pass in the second half.

“I’ve been doing it all my life,” Moss said of starting and returning punts. “Any given play, you can get extra pounding. I’ll be ready if I’m the guy. It’s easy to catch a pass, but it’s not easy to catch a pass with 11 guys running at your throat. It’s like getting dressed in a phone booth. There’s barely anywhere to go, and you’ve got to make a decision quick.”

Novak not fazed

Nick Novak hasn’t kicked in an NFL game, but after playing in three bowl games at Maryland, the rookie said he’s not worried about the pressure of debuting on “Monday Night Football” against Dallas. Novak was signed Tuesday after kicker John Hall pulled a quadriceps against Chicago. Hall could return Oct. 2 against Seattle.

“It’s good to get out and practice with the snapper and holder and get comfortable with everything,” said the ACC’s career scoring leader, who was waived by Chicago during preseason and hooked on with the Cowboys before being cut. “It feels like home to be back here [he went to high school in Charlottesville]. I’ve been in a lot of big games in college and I’ve risen to the occasion, so I don’t think I’ll be nervous. I want to capitalize on this opportunity.”

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