- The Washington Times - Friday, September 9, 2005

Although he was signed last spring primarily to bolster an already deep position, Washington Redskins safety Pierson Prioleau could find himself starting in Sunday’s season opener against the Chicago Bears at RFK Stadium.

Prioleau was second on the team with 20 preseason tackles and moved up the depth chart after injuries to Matt Bowen (knee, chest) and Ryan Clark (knee). Bowen is expected to play, but Clark still is not practicing.

“I’m in a lot of packages and play special teams, so I’m prepared to do my part,” Prioleau said.

In his seventh season out of Virginia Tech, Prioleau, 28, started every game for Buffalo and coach Gregg Williams in 2002 and 2003 and was a reserve for the Bills last season. After Williams, now the Redskins’ assistant head coach/defense, reached out, Prioleau was signed March 16.

“No promises were made, but I wanted to come here and be a veteran guy and lead on defense and in the locker room,” he said. “After taking my visit here and seeing the coaches and them telling me about the guys here, I thought it was the best fit.”

Prioleau said Williams’ defense with the Redskins is more aggressive than his scheme in Buffalo.

“He’s made it better,” Prioleau said. “I had fun playing in his defense at Buffalo, but it’s more fun now, and the things he’s changed and the things he emphasizes allow you to make plays.”

A former fourth-round draft choice, Prioleau had his best season in 2002, when he made 86 tackles for Buffalo.

“He’s been a very good fit,” Williams said. “I know [special teams coach Danny Smith] loves the way he plays on special teams, and I’ve always loved the way he’s played defense.”

Noble getting there

Defensive tackle Brandon Noble (knee, leg) said he is “still in the process of being 100 percent, if I’ll ever be there again.” Noble played the final two preseason games after missing most of the summer with a staph infection in his leg.

“I played three or four series in the last two games, so I got a good amount of work, and I was able to handle it,” he said. “I was sore the next day, but I’ll be all right because they’re not asking me to do a lot.”

Even though he missed minicamp and didn’t don pads until Aug. 15, Noble always was confident he would be ready for the regular season.

“I figured I would be back — it would be a matter of how good a shape I would be in,” he said. “All the conditioning we do out there has gotten me into shape. I’m not where the other guys are, but I’m catching up.”

Good kind of nerves

Assistant head coach/offense Joe Bugel said his stomach is “queasy” about Sunday’s opener. This will be Bugel’s 28th NFL opener and 11th with the Redskins.

“I’m nervous — I’m sweating in an air conditioned room,” he said. “If you don’t have jitters, it’s probably time to retire. If you don’t throw up and do other things, you’re not into the game.”

But it’s a good kind of nervousness.

“I love these feelings,” he said.

The Redskins’ offensive line enjoyed a solid preseason and will feature two starters, right tackle Jon Jansen and center Casey Rabach, who didn’t start last year’s opener. Bugel loves the group’s toughness and unity.

“Once and for all, the changes are this: We’re blocking better,” he said. “We’re putting our faces in the right spots, and we’re finishing blocks. That’s the biggest difference. We’re not hitting and then going to our knees.”

Extra points

Williams said the Redskins have added two defensive packages, giving them 21. “Whomever Coach [Joe Gibbs] allows us to dress out, we have ways to utilize them,” he said. …

Williams on linebacker LaVar Arrington: “My feeling is that he’s had a good preseason, and [hearing] from [athletic trainers] Bubba Tyer and John Burrell, he’s had no setbacks. Hopefully, things will continue to press on.” …

The Redskins reported no changes on their injury report. Linebacker Chris Clemons (hamstring) did not practice and is listed as doubtful. Receiver Taylor Jacobs (toe) practiced but is questionable.

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