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TAMPA, Fla. | Appearing at the Tampa Convention Center on Wednesday to promote next month’s Pro Bowl, Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis said he and coach Jim Zorn are on the same page but was noncommittal about participating in the team’s offseason workout program.
“I’m going to play it by ear,” he said. “I’m going to be taking my time. I know I’m winding down. I’m going to take my time and make the decision best for me to help carry this team.”
After signing an extension last year that guaranteed him at least $15.7 million through 2010, Portis was present for the full schedule of organized team activities.
Portis will make his second Pro Bowl appearance Feb. 7 and first since coming to the Redskins in 2004. He finished fourth in the NFL with 1,487 rushing yards but clashed with Zorn once on the sideline and criticized him during a radio appearance after being benched in a loss at Baltimore.
Nagging injuries diminished Portis’ production during the Redskins’ 2-6 second half. For the season, he accounted for 71.5 percent of the Redskins’ rushing attempts.
Portis doesn’t expect to meet with Zorn before training camp to discuss his practice time, preseason snaps and ways to get him more rest in order to be fresher and healthier for the season’s stretch run. He had just one 100-yard rushing effort in the last eight games.
“That’s up to them,” Portis said. “My talking don’t do any good - it’s their decision to be made. However they call on me and whenever they call on me, that’s when I get the ball.”
Portis added that he doesn’t need to clear the air with Zorn.
“Of course we’re together,” he said. “After the season, I left. I haven’t had a film session with anybody. Football was over with, and I left last year behind me. We can’t go back and change. There’s no need to harp over it and have conversations over where we went wrong and how it happened. Myself, I’m content getting ready, well-rested and being prepared for another year.”
The Zorn-Portis dynamic will be a key subplot next year. After he benched Portis against the Ravens, Zorn said his lack of communication was a mistake. Portis is a favorite of ownership and became accustomed to being coddled by former coach Joe Gibbs.
One of Portis’ public critics is Hall of Fame Redskins running back John Riggins.
“He’s already a headache [for Zorn],” Riggins said during a Sirius NFL Radio press conference. “Is it going to get worse? I don’t know. I believe that unless he changes the way he views himself and views his contributions to the team, this could be problematic for the Redskins.
“It’s a bad situation, and it’s created probably by the people who run the team that he’s been allowed to take the course that he has. I don’t think there’s any turning back now because Clinton Portis has the team over the barrel because of the amount of guaranteed money he’s owed. … They have a bad situation on their hands.”
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