Jim Zorn started his “Victory Monday” media session at Redskins Park with the weekly injury update, which quickly morphed into what’s sure to be a hot topic around these parts over the next few weeks: The health of Clinton Portis and the performance of Ladell Betts.
Zorn had no new information on Portis, who suffered a concussion in the loss to the Falcons and did not practice last week nor play against the Broncos. He said Portis is “progressing” and “improving,” but wanted to wait and evaluate him later this week.
Zorn later added that Portis’ headaches and head-ringing were gone, but that there was still “a little bluriness there.”
The Redskins were given the day off on Monday, and won’t practice again until Wednesday. Zorn didn’t say when Portis would get another evalutation, but emphasised that the team wouldn’t rush him back. “With a concussion,” Zorn said, “we have to wait, and wait properly, and cautiously.”
But Zorn also wanted to make it clear that Portis, if and when he returns to the field, will have a job waiting for him. This despite the impressive outing Betts had on Sunday in the team’s third win of the season.
“I don’t want a guy to have to lose his job because he got a concussion,” Zorn said. Portis is “our running back. Who knows what kind of game he might have had?”
In his first game as a starter since the 2007-08 postseason, Betts carried the ball 26 times for 114 yards and a touchdown. In his relief role against the Falcons the previous week, Betts had 15 carries for 70 yards and another touchdown. Before that game, Betts had a mere 11 carries through seven games.
Portis, meanwhile, has 124 carries for 494 yards (4.0) per carry and a touchdown through eight games, though he got just four carries (for four yards) before the concussion sidelined him in the loss in Atlanta. He has topped 100 yards only once this season, in the Week 6 loss at Kansas City, when 78 of his 109 yards came on one carry.
Though he said Betts “came in and did a wonderful job,” Zorn on Monday wouldn’t commit to using Betts more, only saying “if we have to, we will.”
Meaning that, if Portis can go, you’ll see No. 26 getting a majority of the carries again for the Redskins. But first, Zorn has to see him on the practice field; he said he won’t make a last-minute decision on playing Portis. If he’s in the game, Zorn wants his back to be able to “pound it, really use all of his abilities.”
“If he doesn’t practice all week long, it will be because of [the] concussion, and I will not play him,” Zorn said. “The issue is his health. That’s the main thing, that’s the only thing.”
- John Taylor