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Portis unlikely to play
Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis said yesterday his dislocated left shoulder is 75 percent and he would need “a couple hard practices” to get into football shape. Problem is, the Redskins have only two walkthrough-type practices remaining this week before Monday’s opener against Minnesota.
Although coach Joe Gibbs continues to label Portis as day-to-day, it’s becoming more likely he won’t play against the Vikings.
“I would love to be on the field and chance it, but we have to look at the long run and overall season instead of jumping back early, playing Monday but missing key games after this one,” Portis said. “Like [Gibbs] told me, ‘Don’t chance it if you’re not 100 percent.’ He’ll get 100 percent of me when I can play the type of football I love to play.”
Portis has been sidelined since being injured in the first quarter of the Cincinnati preseason game Aug. 13.
Portis did not wear pads but ran pass routes during the period the media could watch. Afterward, Gibbs said Portis did put on shoulder pads during the closed period and ran more routes but didn’t take any contact.
“The best way of saying it, he’s strictly day-to-day,” Gibbs said. “It’s good that he’s back in pads, so that portion of it is good. He’ll take whatever work he feels like he can take [today].”
Because Portis hasn’t played or practiced in nearly a month, Gibbs said earlier in the week he would need to see Portis take some “slamming” in practice before agreeing to play him.
Portis wouldn’t mind having the option of being a game-time decision even if he didn’t go through a full practice.
“That’s up to the coaches,” he said. “I would love to take that shot, but at the same time, I have to do what’s best for the team. I still have to get into football shape — there’s a difference between that and the conditioning I’ve been doing.”
Running back Rock Cartwright would be surprised if Portis played.
“The shoulder is something serious, and Clinton doesn’t want it to linger the whole year,” Cartwright said.
If Portis doesn’t play, Ladell Betts is expected to start. He has only two career starts — at Buffalo on Oct. 19, 2003, when he sustained a fractured left forearm, and the 2004 finale against Minnesota, when he rushed 26 times for 118 yards (both career highs) in relief of an injured Portis.
“I’ve been preparing for this since Clinton got hurt in the preseason game,” Betts said. “I’m definitely excited. What other stage would you rather be on? Monday night. Season opener. Getting a chance to start.”
Betts received minimal work in the preseason (17 carries for 57 yards), first slowed by a hamstring injury and then protected by Gibbs following Portis’ injury.
T.J. Duckett had 22 carries for 122 yards in two preseason games apiece for Atlanta and the Redskins.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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