The Washington Times - September 10, 2009, 09:42AM

Clinton Portis did his weekly briefing yesterday but I had to spike it from the notebook in favor of the Malcolm Kelly item about him winning the No. 2 receiver job.

So here’s the Portis note …


Even when Jason Campbell was throwing incomplete passes downfield during the preseason, Clinton Portis was becoming more and more encouraged that this year’s Washington Redskins offense will be greatly improved.

“We have the opportunity to do something special and the opportunity to score points,” Portis said before practice Wednesday at Redskin Park. “We’re going to throw the ball downfield and that’s something we haven’t done in previous seasons to open up the run game. It was always, ‘The Redskins are going to play smash-mouth.’

“We’re throwing the ball downfield and whether we complete it or not, it helps the run game. And [defenses] don’t get there on those throws, it’s going to be bombs over Baghdad.”

Portis is healthy after his preseason work consisted of two games and 11 carries and he hopes the development of Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas and arrival of seventh-round draft choice Marko Mitchell makes opponents respect the Redskins’ passing game, which would in turn take their attention away from the run game.

“You can’t cover Malcolm one on one and teams are going to learn that quickly,” Portis said. “Of course people want to double Santana [Moss] and if they bring that eighth guy into the box, that’s when we have the opportunity with [Chris] Cooley and Malcolm matched up one on one.”

Portis enters the season 1,369 yards short of John Riggins’ franchise record for rushing yards. He’s confident he can last 16 games.

“This is built ‘Ford Tough,’” he said. “I’ll never break down.”

A reason for his confidence is Portis’ third down work load, which is expected to decrease. Even though he’s arguably the best running back in the league at pass protection, he will be subbed for Ladell Betts.

“Our goal is to keep people fresh and get everybody involved,” Portis said. “If you look at our roles, it was always me on the field and Ladell went in when I was tired. Now we’re working to keep everybody fresh.”

— Ryan O’Halloran