Defensive tackle Brandon Noble, one of the most popular Redskins, is officially done for the season. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Sept. 14 and was placed on injured reserve a week later.
It's another physical setback for a veteran player who has earned an outstanding reputation league-wide for his ability to battle through adversity. Whether he decides to return for another season in 2006 is an open question.
Noble had tweaked the surgically-repaired knee during an early-season practice, forcing him to sit out the Sept. 11 season-opener against the Chicago Bears.
"You hate that he gets a setback on something like that," head coach Joe Gibbs said. "Our first thought is to always protect him and do what is best for him."
Added Redskins assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams: "Brandon's solid. He'll go down as one my favorite guys. He's so strong. He's overcome all that adversity, and now he has a setback with his knee. We will miss his leadership up front, we really do."
Williams went on to say: "We hope he gets back as fast as he can. Hopefully, he'll take Mike Barrow's place and coach us for this year. Mike Barrow coached last year, maybe Brandon will coach this year."
Gibbs said the coaching staff welcomes Noble into its midst, even if it is on a part-time basis.
"He would work with [defensive coordinator-defensive line coach] Greg Blache, do a lot of coaching stuff for us, and stay with the team," Gibbs said. "He's a very important person for us. I think he'll add a lot.
"He's actually thinking about coaching someday. It's a decision we didn't want to make because he's certainly a big part of the team, so we'll keep him in that capacity and hopefully get him healed up. At the end of the year, he'll make a decision about next year."
Defensive lineman Phillip Daniels missed most of the 2004 season with a myriad of injuries and he served as a de facto assistant coach. He'll help Noble make the transition.
"We're going to miss him, but he'll be around coaching--just like I did last year," Daniels said. "It's sad to see him on IR this year after he battled though his injuries, came back and played in the preseason, and did some of the things that he did in the preseason."
In 2003, Noble had reconstructive surgery on his left knee after suffering an injury during a pre-season game. The 6-2, 305-pounder returned last year to play in all 16 games, with seven starts.
Noble recorded 38 tackles (19 solo) and one sack in 2004 and was named the team's Ed Block Courage Award winner. That annual honor goes to the team leader in terms of battling back from injury. It's named after a long-time Baltimore athletic trainer.
Said Gibbs: "Winning the Ed Block Courage Award says a lot about his work ethic and how mentally and physically tough Brandon is."
Coming out of preseason, the Redskins had decided to keep five defensive tackles. Noble was listed as a backup to starters Cornelius Griffin and Joe Salave'a.
In Noble's absence, Ryan Boschetti, Cedric Killings and rookie Aki Jones could see increased action in the defensive line rotation.