Clinton Portis didn’t want to go on season-ending injured reserve yesterday. He doesn’t want to have surgery on his left shoulder on top of the operation he had Monday to repair a broken bone in his right hand. But the Washington Redskins’ star running back said that at age 25, he’s better prepared to handle these unpleasant realities.
“They want me to get everything fixed that’s wrong,” Portis said. “I understand the decision. I was going to be out four to six weeks and there’s only seven weeks left in the season. They figured the sooner the better.”
Portis, who finished easily the worst of his five seasons with just 523 yards — barely a third of his previous career average — said his shoulder hasn’t been right since he partially dislocated it in the preseason opener on Aug. 13 at Cincinnati.
“It’s been good enough to play, but I protected the shoulder and tried to stay away from hitting it,” Portis said. “I really never could jam or have any quick-twitch movements with it. I knew my limits. I don’t ever want to go under that knife. I always feel like time’s going to heal everything. But they said [the hand] probably wouldn’t heal right and that my [right] finger would be shorter if I didn’t have the surgery.”
Portis was hopeful of talking the Redskins out of the shoulder surgery, but he’ll lose that argument.
“I think Clinton will do whatever the doctors tell him to do,” said coach Joe Gibbs, who had a long talk with Portis on Tuesday. “The feeling was that his hand could [keep him out] anywhere from three to five weeks. That’s a long time out of the season, and it’s the opposite hand from his shoulder. I felt bad for Clinton all year. I don’t think he was ever really healthy.
“The general feeling was that his shoulder will be a long rehab. Considering that and not knowing exactly when he would be back from his hand, everybody felt like it was best to get everything taken care of. Then he can start working out and hopefully shorten that period of time where he can be back full strength for us.”
After his surgery next month, Portis will have to endure what Redskins director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer said likely will be four to five months of rehabilitation.
“If this would have happened in earlier years, I probably would have been frustrated and upset and wondering why and questioning this and questioning that,” Portis said. “But I’m older, much wiser, more mature. I understand the business of the game. I had four years as a running back with no [major] injuries and playing at a level that most people don’t play at. It’s only a matter of time before that catches up with any running back.
“Fortunately for me, [they are] things that can be repaired, that won’t linger into next season. It could have been a knee or something major. I could have broken my neck when [tacklers] twisted my whole body around.”
Said running backs coach Earnest Byner, “If Clinton looks upon it as a challenge … for him to come back even stronger and with a vengeance next year, we’ll all benefit from that.”
With blocking tight end Christian Fauria likely out of Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay because of a chronic left ankle sprain, the Redskins filled Portis’ roster spot by re-signing tight end Brian Kozlowski.
Kozlowski, 36, played in 27 games with Washington the past two seasons, catching five passes for 55 yards.