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TIMES-DISPATCH - Noble hurt in defeat


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Noble hurt in defeat

Knee injury might shelve defensive tackle for season






LANDOVER, Md. - The New England Patriots used a strong first quarter and an explosive special-teams effort in the second half to claim a 20-13 victory over the Washington Redskins in an NFL preseason game at FedEx Field last night.

The Redskins (0-2) lost more than just the game. Starting defensive tackle Brandon Noble suffered a serious injury to his left knee in the first quarter and could be out for the season. Noble, a free agent signee during the offseason, had been the Redskins' most consistent tackle so far during the preseason.

"He could be out half the year, maybe more," said Redskins coach Steve Spurrier, the dejection evident in his voice.

Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey injured the index finger on his right hand when he hit it on a helmet on the follow-through of a pass attempt.

"I played the whole second quarter with it," Ramsey said. "I should be fine for next week."

While much of the game's excitement took place in the second half - Patriots rookie Bethel Johnson returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown - the battle that mattered most occurred in the first half.

Both teams kept their starters in through the first and second quarters. New England clearly won the first quarter, jumping out to a 13-0 lead. The Redskins more than held their own in the second quarter and cut the deficit to 13-7.

The Patriots seemed intent on making a statement in the first half, and their defense threw a number of blitzes and defensive-line stunts at the Redskins. Washington's offensive line had a difficult time making adjustments, and Ramsey often was pressured, was sacked twice and threw an interception.

Ramsey managed to complete 13 of 24 passes for 149 yards. His greatest success came when he hooked up with wide receiver Laveranues Coles, who found a wide seam in the Patriots' secondary for 29 yards, moving the Redskins to the New England 14.

On the next play Ramsey made an ill-advised pass while he was in the grasp of a defender. Ramsey's pass came up short of his intended receiver and was intercepted by New England cornerback Eugene Wilson near the goal line.

"Patrick did some good and bad things, that's why he needs to play," Spurrier said. "He was trying to throw the one away, but he needs to throw it in the dirt or something.

"There are a lot of things happening. He needs to keep playing. He's got the talent to do it."

In the second quarter, Ramsey got even with Wilson. Coles blew past the rookie cornerback, and Ramsey connected with him for a 35-yard gain to the Patriots' 17.

On the next play, Ramsey again was in the grasp of a New England defender, but this time Ramsey threw short instead of deep, and running back Kenny Watson made the catch and turned the play into an 11-yard gain.

The Redskins scored on the next play when running back Trung Canidate had his most impressive effort of the evening. Canidate got good blocks from tight end Robert Royal, who is pushing for a starting job, and fullback Bryan Johnson. Canidate then ran over a defender to finish off a 6-yard touchdown play.

Spurrier lived up to his reputation as someone who is unafraid to take a chance. Spurrier twice eschewed a punt in fourth-and-short situations, and both times the Redskins got the first down. Backup fullback Rock Cartwright carried on both plays and appears to be emerging as the Redskins' short-yardage back.

"Rock looked good," Spurrier said. "Fortunately we got those first downs, or we might not have scored again."

The Redskins were shutout last week by Carolina. Spurrier did not see this week as a vast improvement.

"I don't know how it's a step forward when you score 13 points," Spurrier said.

With Noble out, the Redskins search for a veteran defensive tackle is expected to intensify. The Denver Post has reported that the Redskins are one of three teams interested in trading for Broncos defensive tackle Lionel Dalton.

In the game-within-the-game, Bryan Barker had a clear edge over Brent Bartholomew in the punting contest. Barker had a 45-yard punt when the Redskins were backed up to their 4-yard line and had good hang times on his other efforts.

Contact Paul Woody at (804) 649-6444 or pwoody@timesdispatch.com

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Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey injured the index finger on his right hand when he hit it on a helmet on the follow-through of a pass attempt.

"I played the whole second quarter with it," Ramsey said. "I should be fine for next week."

That explains a lot. I hope it is not one of those lingering injurys that bothers him all year like Warner. :doh:

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