BALTIMORE | With the Washington Redskins trailing the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday night, running back Clinton Portis, the No. 2 rusher in the NFL, was nowhere to be found - except on the sideline. Backup Ladell Betts was in the game instead as the Redskins went on to lose 24-10.
Portis, whose practice participation has been limited the last few weeks while coping with assorted injuries, said while coming off the field that he had been “benched.” He said he felt fine.
“There's nothing wrong with me,” he added.
Asked why he wasn't in the game, Portis said, “You've got to go talk to them,” meaning the coaches.
Redskins coach Jim Zorn said he felt Portis needed a rest and that Betts was playing well. Betts had six carries for just 3 yards but caught three passes for 57 yards. Portis, meanwhile, finished with 11 carries for 32 yards and caught three passes for 14 yards, but he didn't carry the ball after a series early in the third quarter.
“Ladell came up and made some big plays,” Portis said. “He played good. ... He got hot. Stick with the hot guy.
“The good thing about it is I'll practice on Wednesday,” Portis added. “There ain't nothing wrong with me.”
Asked whether Zorn discussed it with him, Portis said, “He don't have to talk to me about nothing. He's the head coach. I'm the player.”
Portis was asked whether he was aware that Zorn said the decision was made by running backs coach Stump Mitchell.
“I ask no questions, bro,” he said. “I held my helmet. I don't know if Coach Mitchell is the most powerful guy over here. But if that's what they say. ... I think Coach Stump does an excellent job communicating with us. But I ask no questions, bro.”
Portis was asked how badly he wanted to be in the game and simply gave a little laugh.
Portis fumbled in the first quarter, and Ravens safety Ed Reed recovered and ran it in for a touchdown to give the Ravens a 14-0 lead. Zorn challenged the play but it was upheld.
If Portis kept mostly mum about his lack of activity, cornerback Fred Smoot was a bit more forthcoming about his own lack of action. He said he didn't care about being benched as a starter in favor of DeAngelo Hall, “but I do care about the 15 [plays] I got,” he said.
Smoot was the third cornerback behind Carlos Rogers and Hall (Shawn Springs was sidelined with a calf injury), playing in the Redskins' nickel package when the Ravens used three receivers in their passing formations. Baltimore stuck mostly to the ground, especially in the second half. But Smoot thought it might have been something else, although he wasn't sure what.
“Maybe I'm not somebody's favorite,” he said. “I don't know. I promise you, I'm clueless. I just show up to work every day ready to work and ready to play football on Sundays.”
Smoot said he did not talk about the situation with anyone.
“Maybe someone will talk to me,” he said.
With an interception and a forced fumble, Redskins safety LaRon Landry did all he could to try to bring the Redskins back from a 17-0 deficit. They got to within seven points but no closer.
“We still had to complete our job,” he said. “We still were down. ... We hung in there, but we lost. Those plays are in the past to me. If we had won the game, OK, I made great plays, and they would have helped the team get back in it. But we lost, and it don't mean [expletive].”
Springs, Golston sit
Cornerback Shawn Springs missed a seventh game with a strained left calf and defensive tackle Kedric Golston sat out a second straight week with bone spurs in both ankles.
Running back Clinton Portis (neck, ribs, knee), linebacker London Fletcher (foot), defensive end Andre Carter (foot), offensive tackle Chris Samuels (knee) and defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin (shoulder) were in the lineup Sunday night.
Washington's other inactives were linebacker Marcus Washington (high ankle sprain), offensive linemen Jason Fabini and Chad Rinehart, tight end Fred Davis and defensive end Erasmus James.
All five Baltimore starters who missed practice time during the week - running back Willis McGahee, offensive tackle Jared Gaither, receiver Derrick Mason, cornerback Samari Rolle and safety Ed Reed - were in the lineup.