Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hobbled RB Clinton Portis unable to get Washington Redskins moving

Hobbled RB Clinton Portis unable to get Washington Redskins moving
Special to the Star-Telegram

LANDOVER, Md. — Nearly three hours before kickoff, Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis was standing at the 20-yard line, sandwiched between two team trainers while head coach Jim Zorn, defensive coordinator Greg Blache and two other members of the coaching staff watched from the sideline.

Portis took his cues from the trainers, running routes and performing a number of other exercises in what appeared to be the equivalent of a tryout, all to prove that his sprained left knee, which kept him off the practice field during much of the bye week, was strong enough to carry Washington toward the top half of the NFC East and drop Dallas deeper into its basement.

But even with an active Portis (15 carries, 68 yards) on Sunday night, Washington managed just 228 yards of offense and could not overcome Portis’ counterpart, Cowboys running back Marion Barber, who finished with 114 yards rushing and a touchdown and was Dallas’ leading receiver with six receptions for 39 yards.

"I was surprised that [Portis] played because of the knee injury that he had, and if you looked at him on Friday, you would have thought no way," Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell said.
Portis’ first carry — a 5-yard burst — pushed him over the 1,000-yard mark in 10 games, the quickest he’s reached the milestone in his seven-year career.

But he also became the sixth premier back whom Dallas has held under 100 yards this season.
Portis rushed for 121 yards on 21 carries during the Redskins’ 26-24 victory over Dallas on Sept. 28, a result that left both teams at 3-1.

"Even with all the pain that he was going through, he still tried to give it his all," Campbell said of Portis.

With backup Ladell Betts (knee) listed as probable and Shaun Alexander and Rock Cartwright having combined for 14 carries and 36 yards in the previous nine weeks, Portis — the NFL’s second-leading rusher entering Sunday with 995 yards and seven touchdowns — "was out there fighting with his teammates," Campbell said.

"We’ve just got to score points," Cartwright said. "If we score points, we’ll win football games."
Portis was solid on the Redskins’ first drive — a 10-play, 49-yard in which he rushed five times for 29 yards, accounted for two first downs and broke a 9-yard run on fourth-and-1 from the 11-yard line to set up Campbell’s 2-yard play-action touchdown pass to Mike Sellers.

But Portis found little running room the rest of the game, which was bad news for Washington against its bitter division rival.

The Redskins have won five of their past eight games against the Cowboys, and in their three losses Portis either did not play or was held well under 100 yards.

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