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Portis vows to be ‘better teammate’
Question of the Day
The running back known for dressing in costumes, pouting about practicing and criticizing everyone in his path quietly went about his business while Albert Haynesworth and Donovan McNabb dominated the spotlight.
Portis is about 15 pounds slimmer than last season, and teammates say he’s been more dedicated and focused than they’ve seen him in a long time.
“I made it my goal this preseason to make sure I was never the topic of conversation or headlines about missing practice,” said Portis, whose only missed time came when he sat out a few days with a sprained ankle. “I wanted to show my teammates I was dedicated to getting myself right.”
As he often does, Portis rambled through many topics during his 15 minutes with reporters Thursday. He defended himself more than once and still has that ever-present chip on his shoulder, but his only sharp comments were aimed at the press, which he long ago decided wasn’t always going to be on his side anyway.
“Even though y’all want me to be forgotten about,” Portis said, “I’m still here.”
For a while, it wasn’t certain he would be back. Portis missed the last eight games of last season after suffering a severe concussion in a helmet-to-helmet hit in a game against Atlanta. It was several months before he was medically cleared, and the annual circus that the Redskins had become had him wondering if it was time to try to move on to another team.
“Did I question whether I would be back with the Redskins? Yes,” Portis said. “I know, as far as this town, it’s a bittersweet relationship. On Sundays, they love me. On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday when the headlines come out, it’s a lot of hatred. So you get in that bittersweet relationship, it’s like wanting to start over, wanting to start new.”
“It was a new regime coming in, and luckily for me it was coach Shanahan,” Portis said. “I think (it was) having coach Shanahan coming in here and Bruce Allen, and knowing now we’re legit, like we really got a chance, like things are going to change.”
Portis also got healthy again. As scary as the concussion was, he is now able to call it “a blessing.”
“I think that was a blessing. I think that gave you the opportunity to go out and realize how much being on this field really meant to you, how much being around your teammates meant,” Portis said. “I was gone after Week Eight, and I still got the finger pointed at me like I was the problem the last eight weeks of the season. I think it gave me a chance to go out and take a look in the mirror and realize the things that are my faults and things I was doing wrong and the person I needed to be.”
So what was he doing wrong?
“Honestly, I don’t feel like I was doing nothing wrong but telling the truth,” Portis said, “but at the same time I got to the point of, ‘I could be a better teammate.’”
For Portis, being a better teammates meant putting in more time at Redskins Park and complaining less. It helps, though, that the one thing he complained the most about — too many practices in full pads — isn’t a problem under Shanahan, who limits contact to keep the players fresh.
By Matt Kibbe
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