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Daily Press: Noble may be sidelined for season


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Noble may be sidelined for season


By Warner Hessler

Daily Press

Published August 17, 2003

LANDOVER, Md. -- It was supposed to be just another meaningless exhibition game, one in which the Washington Redskins tried to show a little more life and organization than they did a week ago when they dropped a 20-point decision to the Carolina Panthers.

Instead, their 20-13 loss Saturday night to the New England Patriots at FedEx Field was more devastating than their loss in Carolina.

Defensive tackle Brandon Noble, the former Dallas Cowboys starter from Virginia Beach who was among the Redskins' first targets in the free-agent signing period, suffered a separated patella tendon and dislocated kneecap in his left leg and had to be carted off the field in the first quarter.

Though initial reports were that he would be out at least eight weeks, the feeling in the dressing room is that his season is already over.

"I walked over, looked at the angle of his knee, and I knew it was bad," linebacker Jeremiah Trotter said. "He looked up at me and said, 'Trots, it's over.' All I could do was pray for him."

The already-thin defensive tackle position took another hit when backup Bernard Jackson suffered a sprained ankle and will be out up to three weeks.

Warning signs of a second consecutive disaster went up at the start when Patrick Ramsey's first two passes of the game were off the mark and center Wilbert Brown's shotgun snap sailed over Ramsey's head for a 16-yard loss.

New England promptly went 40 yards on six plays and took a 6-0 lead on a 5-yard run by Antowain Smith. Adam Vinatieri's extra-point try banged off the left upright.

The Redskins' first unit, held to just 53 total yards in one quarter of work in a 20-0 loss at Carolina, showed some spark on the next possession and drove to the Patriots' 14 on passes of 15 yards to Rod Gardner and 29 yards to Laveranues Coles. But Ramsey tried to complete a pass while in the clutches of a defender and wound up throwing a poor pass that was intercepted by cornerback Eugene Wilson at the New England 10. Ramsey finished 13-of-24 for 149 yards.

"Patrick did some good and bad things," coach Steve Spurrier said, "but next time he tries to throw away a pass, he needs to throw it into the dirt."

Scattered boos were heard three plays later when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw a bomb to receiver David Patten, who had run past strong safety David Terrell. Patten caught the pass at the Washington 32 and ran untouched for a 13-0 lead with 6:43 left in the first quarter. At that point, the Patriots had 140 yards on their first nine plays.

The Redskins ended their preseason scoring drought at 85 minutes, 23 seconds, late in the second quarter when tailback Trung Canidate capped a 68-yard drive with a 6-yard burst over right tackle. Ramsey ate up 35 yards on the drive with a bullet to Coles, who was running down the right sideline.

Tailback Kenny Watson, who is in a four-way battle for three running back spots on the Redskins' regular-season roster, may have made the team on the first series of the third quarter. Watson carried 10 times for 55 yards and five first downs before the drive ended and John Hall kicked a 27-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 13-10.

"We did some good things," Spurrier said, "but we scored 10 points and that's not very good."

The optimism that the Redskins were going to make a game of it was dampened on the ensuing kickoff when Bethel Johnson fielded the ball at his 2, cut to the left sidelines and raced 98 yards to make it 20-10 with 3:16 remaining in the third quarter.

QUICK KICKS. NFL sources said the Redskins are considering sending a fifth-round draft pick to Denver for journeyman defensive tackle Lional Dalton, who lost his starting job late last season. Baltimore and Jacksonville are also believed to be interested. ... Former Redskins defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson is reportedly weighing similar offers from Green Bay and Detroit and likely will make a decision early next week.

Warner Hessler can be reached at 247-4648 or by e-mail at whessler@dailypress.com

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