- The Washington Times - Monday, September 18, 2006

Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis, who did not play in the team’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, plans to return to the lineup this week against the Houston Texans.

“In my mind, there’s not a doubt,” Portis said yesterday at Redskin Park.

Portis carried 10 times and caught two passes in the Redskins’ season-opening loss to the Minnesota Vikings. He sat out the Dallas game, however, because of what he called a “jammed” left rotator cuff, an injury unrelated to the dislocated left shoulder he suffered Aug. 13.

“It wasn’t that I did something to it. It just wasn’t firing the way it should,” Portis said. “It was a precautionary measure, and Coach [Joe] Gibbs didn’t want it to be something [that] wouldn’t get fully healed and would then linger week after week after week.”

Portis said Gibbs told him Wednesday he would be inactive for the Dallas game. However, Portis also said he felt healthy late in the week.

“A couple days ago, I felt like I had my strength back. But at the same time, the decision had been made,” he said. “He told me to get my rest and get it fully healed.”

Gibbs wouldn’t commit to playing Portis against the Texans.

“Clinton’s going to want to play in every game,” Gibbs said. “He’s a joker and tried to jerk [the media’s] leg as best he could [last week]. But he and I talked every day last week, and I think because he wasn’t playing he wanted the other team to think he was playing.

“But what I’ve tried to tell Clinton is that we have to tell everybody exactly where we are with the injury. This week, we’ll take it day by day.”

Gibbs also said yesterday defensive tackle Joe Salave’a suffered a minor calf injury and tight end Todd Yoder has a concussion.

Campbell stays ready

Throw in the kid or call up the career backup?

Gibbs stood firmly behind veteran quarterback Mark Brunell as his starter even though the Redskins’ offense has scored only one touchdown in two losses to start the season. Quarterback of the future Jason Campbell, meanwhile, works quietly behind the scenes with veteran Todd Collins, the reserve who followed offensive guru Al Saunders from the Kansas City Chiefs to Washington.

“You have to stay mentally on top of it because you don’t get many reps,” Campbell said.

Would a loss to the Texans at Houston and an 0-3 start prompt Gibbs to make a switch at quarterback? Or would it take something like a 1-6 start and a bye week for Campbell to get a chance?

No one at Redskin Park wanted to talk about such a scenario yesterday, even if it was all the chatter on talk radio and around water coolers.

“You have to not pay attention to things on the outside,” Campbell said. “The backup quarterback is always the most popular guy. That doesn’t matter if it’s in high school, college or the NFL.”

Gibbs previously said Collins, who turns 35 in November, would replace Brunell if he were injured or pulled during a game but that Campbell would start if Brunell were injured and could not play the next week.

Hall handles kickoffs

John Hall returned to kickoff duty against the Cowboys, booting the football to the Dallas 4-, 4- and 5-yard lines.

Punter Derrick Frost handled kickoffs against the Vikings in the season opener, but Gibbs wanted to see an improvement and gave Hall a shot.

“John said to me, ‘Hey, I feel great. I know I can kick off now,’ ” Gibbs said. “His direction on kickoffs and the fact he’s done it a bunch really helps us. I started out the year and was really preferring to keep him out of kicking off because he had strained his leg kicking off before, and I didn’t want to go through that again.”

Springs to return?

Cornerback Shawn Springs, sidelined since abdominal surgery Aug. 15, expects to return to the field when the Redskins get back on the practice field tomorrow.

“Each week I get a little closer to where I want to be,” Springs said. “The biggest thing is I can do all the movements. I can’t do them as quick as I want.”

Which is why Springs doesn’t figure he actually will be back in a game until Washington returns home against Jacksonville on Oct. 1. It’s going to take him some time to be ready to cover opposing receivers.

“We’re missing the swagger,” Springs said. “That’s something I might bring out there.”

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