- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2006

Clinton Portis is on track to start at running back for the Washington Redskins against the Houston Texans on Sunday. But cornerback Shawn Springs is questionable after he sustained a mild right groin strain in the opening 30 minutes of practice yesterday.

Portis, who missed the Dallas game with a rotator cuff injury, went through his first full practice since Aug. 11 — two days before he dislocated his left shoulder at Cincinnati.

“Clinton looked good and felt good, so I think we’re OK there,” coach Joe Gibbs said. “If he continues like today, I would think he would [start].”

With Portis limited by injuries, the offense ranks 26th in yards and 24th in points.

“You always want your best players available, but still we should have been better than we were in the two games with the players we did have,” associate head coach-offense Al Saunders said.

Houston coach Gary Kubiak was the Denver offensive coordinator during Portis’ two seasons with the Broncos.

“He wants the football so bad,” Kubiak said. “I know how important a piece of the puzzle he is to them. I’m sure he’ll be ready to go. The thing that has always impressed me is that he’s tough. In Denver, he never came off the field for us.”

Springs returned to practice for the first time since abdominal surgery Aug. 14. But during the opening moments of individual drills, he was injured while trying to make a change of direction move.

Director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer said the groin injury is not related to Springs’ surgery.

“Our plan was to have him practice, but he was injured doing something he had been doing for the last three weeks,” Tyer said. “He felt a little twinge of pain in his groin. There’s no pain or tenderness around the surgery area.”

Without Springs in the secondary, the Redskins (0-2) rank 20th in pass defense. He will be re-evaluated today, and Tyer didn’t rule him out for Sunday.

Defensive tackle Joe Salave’a (calf) is also questionable. Receiver Santana Moss (hip) is probable.

Brunell unfazed

Despite a quarterback rating (67.7) that is fifth worst in the NFL and seven throwaways and no touchdowns through two games, Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell remains confident his performance will improve soon.

“Everything is inconsistent right now,” Brunell said. “I wish it was just one thing, but there are a number things. You can always be better at your reads, your accuracy, your decisions in the pocket — certainly, there are a lot of things I can do better.”

Said Saunders: “Mark’s going to be fine. We have to help him. The quarterback, often times, has his production reliant on people who are running and blocking and on our designs and efforts. … I’m optimistic we’ll get there. It doesn’t happen overnight. I would have liked for it to happen a little sooner.”



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