Noble Returns

One sight stood out at an otherwise meaningless workout: defensive tackle Brandon Noble took part in a half dozen snaps or so. And that represented a minor miracle.

Noble tore the ACL, MCL and dislocated the kneecap in his left knee last August. It was supposed to be a career-threatening injury. Now Noble is seriously talking about playing in the season opener.

Much to the amazement of his teammates.

''I'm sure guys wrote him off,'' Redskins end Renaldo Wynn said. ''To see him out there is phenomenal. It's unbelievable. But he lived in this facility all year. He was here every day in the offseason.''

That's because Noble knew it would only take hard work to get back. He could handle that. After all, that's how he went from being an undrafted rookie free agent in 1997 to a fulltime starter several years later.

''''It's the hardest I've had to work,'' Noble said, ''but it's something that comes natural to me. Hard work has never been a problem so I just looked it like just another challenge. I went into it planning on playing again. That was my goal. If I go out and can't play anymore, so be it. But at this point it's going in the right direction. It looks like I'll be out there on the field in September.''

Though he's not a flashy Pro Bowl type player, Noble is well-respected by his teammates for what he brings.

''He's a heck of a leader,'' Wynn said. ''He knows the X's and O's and he's one of the smartest players I've ever played with. He can tip you off to what play is coming before it comes. You can't replace that.''


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