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Portis remains cautious

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Earlier in his career, even last year, Clinton Portis would have tried to rush back from an injury to play, risking the chance of a setback.

But choosing discretion over valor is Portis' strategy this August, meaning he won't practice and certainly won't play for the Washington Redskins until the tendinitis in his knee has become manageable.

"Last year, I wanted to be on the field, wanted to do this, wanted to do that, wanted to be a part of things," he said yesterday at Redskin Park. "But when I was out there, I wasn't the No. 26 of old and all of a sudden, I was written off like I [stink].

"I'm going to take my time. When I feel comfortable and the training team feels good about me being out there, I'll be out there."

Portis, who hasn't practiced since July 30, will make the trip to Tennessee for tomorrow night's preseason opener so he can be examined by team consultant Dr. James Andrews.

"From what I can tell and going off what he says, he feels better and stronger," coach Joe Gibbs said. "I think we're on the right track there. It's just a matter of how long it's going to take."

During Wednesday night's practice, Portis did several agility drills that had him stopping and starting and also making cuts. Yesterday, he said he did some exercises before the media was allowed to watch and then rode the stationary bike.

"I can tell the improvement," he said. "A week or two ago, we focused on the strength part. Now we're focusing on stretching it. Since we started that process, things have gone a lot better."

Portis wouldn't speculate on whether he will return to practice on Monday. The biggest hurdle is being able to make running back-like moves without pain. Until then, he'll be limited to running in straight lines and riding the bike.

Thrash tweaks groin

Redskins receiver/special teams ace James Thrash sustained a mild groin injury and defensive tackle Joe Salave'a a minor hamstring injury during yesterday's practice. Both are still expected to be available tomorrow night.

"[Thrash] said he could go but James always says he can go," Gibbs said. "When he says he has just a little something, we pay a lot of attention to it."

Also sitting out were Portis, left tackle Chris Samuels, receiver Brandon Lloyd (shin splints), tight end Tyler Ecker (groin), defensive tackle Vaka Manupuna (quadriceps) and cornerback Jerametrius Butler (hamstring).

Getting in a routine

This is center Casey Rabach's sixth training camp and third with the Redskins so he knows the drill about the first few weeks of training camp — get through it. Although the schedule becomes less intense starting next week (the last two-a-day is Tuesday), Rabach said things don't return to normal for another week.

"We probably get into that kind of schedule after the second game," he said. "The first game is a measure of where we are and then we have the third week of camp before the second game and that's when you keep on polishing the things that stood out in the first game."

Springs feels sharp

Last year's preseason opener was a nightmare for cornerback Shawn Springs, who aggravated a sports hernia injury that sidelined him for more than two months. But he's looking forward to tomorrow night.

"It's about working on my technique and seeing where I'm at," he said. "So far, I feel pretty good. For me, this time has been important because I had been off from football since the last two games of the season because I got hurt and then wasn't at OTAs and minicamp. I'm still working on getting my rhythm and timing down."

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