- The Washington Times - Friday, September 9, 2005

Washington Redskins defensive tackle Brandon Noble is assistant head coach/defense Gregg Williams’ measuring stick for toughness. However, Noble will have to be plenty tough to play in tomorrow’s season opener against Chicago after injuring the cartilage in his left knee Thursday.

The injury wasn’t announced until yesterday, and Noble declined to discuss its severity in hopes of keeping the Bears guessing about his status. Noble wants to play, but Williams will have to decide whether a less than healthy veteran is a better option than an inexperienced sub like Cedric Killings or Ryan Boschetti.

Joe Salave’a already was starting ahead of Noble at right tackle.

Trainer Bubba Tyer said Noble, who missed all of 2003 after undergoing reconstructive surgery on the knee, landed awkwardly during Thursday’s practice. Tyer is hopeful Noble won’t need more surgery to alleviate the condition.

Safety Ryan Clark and linebacker Chris Clemons are all but out after missing the entire week of practice. However, receiver Taylor Jacobs, who was sidelined throughout preseason with a sprained left toe, is good to go. It’s up to coach Joe Gibbs to decide whether Jacobs is sharp enough to keep five receivers active tomorrow.

Opening with Orton

When Kyle Orton takes the opening snap for the Bears, he’ll be just the fifth rookie quarterback to start an opener in this decade, following Carolina’s Chris Weinke and Dallas’ Quincy Carter in 2001, Houston’s David Carr in 2002 and Baltimore’s Kyle Boller in 2003.

“It’s a pretty good way to do it going against a good defense in a hostile environment,” said Orton, who lasted until the fourth round of the NFL Draft after a senior slump at Purdue and then became Chicago’s starter when Rex Grossman broke an ankle and replacement Chad Hutchinson bombed in preseason.

“I’ll probably see more than most quarterbacks see in their first start, but I’m real excited and real confident,” Orton said. “I see the field really well, and I have the arm strength to make all the throws.”

Orton had a solid 84.4 passer rating in preseason, and Noble said rattling the rookie might not be so easy.

“We can’t go in thinking we have a big advantage because they have a rookie quarterback,” Noble said. “Orton shakes off bad plays and plays with a lot of poise.”

Rookies Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Eli Manning of the New York Giants were a combined 21-for-45 for 244 yards and no touchdowns in consecutive games last season against Washington’s third-ranked defense, which also intercepted virtual rookies Carson Palmer and Ken Dorsey six times.

Rogers ready

It’s unclear whether veteran Walt Harris or rookie Carlos Rogers will start at left cornerback, but the ninth pick in the 2005 draft said he’s ready to make his debut either as a starter or the nickel back.

“I’m real excited,” said Rogers, the only Redskins rookie who figures to play much on offense or defense. “I’m ready to go. If I start, great. If I don’t, I’m pretty sure they’re going to play me a lot.”

Williams likes what he has seen from Rogers, whom he preferred to Antrel Rolle and Pacman Jones, corners drafted earlier.

“I’ve had a chance to coach a lot of first- and second-round corners, and Carlos compares [favorably] to all those guys,” Williams said. “As he gets more acclimated, I think you’ll see more and more plays out of him. He hasn’t been afraid of anyone since he got here.”

Brown on Rice

Monday’s retirement of NFL career receiving leader Jerry Rice had an impact on Washington’s resident Methuselah, offensive lineman Ray Brown, Rice’s teammate in San Francisco from 1996 to 2000.

“We’ve all got to go sometime, and Jerry doesn’t leave injured and he leaves on his own terms,” said Brown, who like Rice is 42. “I’d like to leave when I’ve still got football in me, too.”

Brown is about to start his 20th season although two (1990 and 1991) were spent on injured reserve. Only kicker/quarterback George Blanda (26), kickers Morten Andersen and Gary Anderson (23) and quarterback Earl Morrall (21) lasted longer.

Helping hands

Some Redskins’ wives and local ROTC members will be among more than 100 volunteers collecting donations for the victims of Hurricane Katrina outside FedEx Field before tomorrow’s game.

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