The Washington Times - August 28, 2007, 07:10PM

\ No Redskin lives a more dramatic life than running back Clinton Portis. He’s the closest thing the Redskins have to a teenage drama queen. Portis’ three-plus years in Washington have evolved from “What Character WIll Clinton Dress Up As This Week” to “What Will Clinton Say Next?”\

\ If Portis isn’t defending Michael Vick’s dogfighting habits, then he’s wearing a garish green and gold outfit reminiscent of Charlie Finley’s Oakland A’s of the 1970s.\


\ Most amazing of all is that Portis has managed to be on the field less this summer than he was in 2006 when he separated his shoulder in the Aug. 13 preseason opener at Cincinnati and didn’t get back on the field until the eve of the Sept. 11 regular season opener.\

\ A knee ailment that famed surgeon James Andrews found didn’t need surgery in May kept the Redskins’ top running back out of contact the past four weeks. How much he did today is debatable since the media is now excused before team drills begin.\

\ After practice, Portis, who couldn’t get his story straight with Gibbs on his health last September, was back giving math lessons as he discussed why he’s planning to miss the entire preseason.\

\ “I’m about 85 percent, maybe 95 percent tomorrow, probably 98 by game time,” he said. “Hopefully [coach Joe Gibbs] will understand [that] I’m only 98 percent and keep me on the sidelines [for Thursday’s preseason finale at Jacksonville]. By Week 1, I have to be 100 percent.”\

\ Gibbs, who often defers to Portis on matters of health, noted that San Diego’s All-Pro running back LaDainian Tomlinson never plays preseason games and said the Redskins have been “trying to do the smart thing” by letting Portis basically take August off.\

\ However, while Portis has three 1,500-yard seasons, but he’s no Tomlinson. And Portis is coming off his worst season, one that ended seven games early with the ailing shoulder — which needed offseason surgery — and a broken hand.\

\ Portis then jokingly mocked out the hard work of his backup Ladell Betts, who played much better than Portis last year. Betts was actually the NFL’s most productive back other than Tomlinson during the final six games of 2006.\

\ “Ladell was probably the happiest guy [about Portis’ return to team drills today],” Portis said. “I think he has the best schedule in football. When I’m not going, they make sure nothing happens to him as the safety valve. When I’m going, nothing happens to him because I’m going.”\

\ One thing’s for sure. Portis is always going on about something.\

\ “Clinton’s got a lot of comical stuff, but sometimes I wish he wasn’t the comic,” said Gibbs, who would appreciate knowing if Portis will be ready when the games count for real.\

\ If Portis isn’t ready for Miami on Sept. 9, maybe Southeast Jerome or Coach Janky Spanky can fill in. After all as Shakespeare wrote, each “man in his time plays many parts.”\ — David Elfin