- The Washington Times - Friday, November 14, 2008

Ladell Betts took another step Thursday toward being available when the Washington Redskins play Dallas on Sunday, but Clinton Portis’ status remained unchanged, making it more likely his left knee sprain will keep him out of the lineup.

Despite a steady rain, Betts’ ability to cut on the wet field during practice encouraged coach Jim Zorn. Betts has missed three consecutive games.

“I did a lot more than [Wednesday],” he said. “There wasn’t any swelling and pain in the morning. My confidence grows every day, and I’m feeling good.”

Portis left Redskin Park at 12:20 p.m. without speaking to reporters.

“He’s continuing to get treatment,” Zorn said. “I was hoping today there would be a little more optimism, and there’s not. There was no change. I was looking for another jump, but there wasn’t.”

Also out were cornerback Shawn Springs (calf), linebacker Marcus Washington (shoulder), defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery (Achilles) and receiver Devin Thomas (ill).

Springs could return to practice Friday, but Zorn labeled Washington and Montgomery “a little less than questionable” to play.

If Springs can’t go, newcomer DeAngelo Hall would become the third corner in his Redskins debut.

“He’s fitting in very, very well,” defensive coordinator Greg Blache said. “It will be interesting to see what he’s capable of doing on the field. We’re primarily a man [coverage] team, and he could come in and play that for us, and he knows our verbiage, so he could play zone if we wanted him to.”

Receiver Malcolm Kelly, out the last four games because of a knee injury, likely will be a healthy scratch.

“He’s practicing hard, and he’s having no changes in his knee, so that’s a really good sign,” Zorn said. “I don’t believe I’ll activate him because he’s so far behind as far as learning and reacting to things that come up.”

Home underdogs

The Redskins thrived in the underdog role earlier this year, beating Dallas and Philadelphia. But because of Portis’ status, the Cowboys are favored by 1½ points this week.

“The team should be a little upset about it because [Dallas] is a team we beat at their place and now they’re coming to our place, and yet we’re still the underdog,” Blache said. “It’s a little bit of a slight. I take it personally, and I hope the guys take it personally. But who are we to say? Those guys pick winners. Maybe they know something about us we don’t. Hopefully they’ll be wrong.”

No Moss on punts

Zorn doesn’t expect to use receiver Santana Moss on punt returns against Dallas. Moss returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown at Detroit but wasn’t used against Pittsburgh because of a worrisome hamstring.

“I’d have to feel good about [the hamstring], and right now I don’t want to put that on him yet,” Zorn said. “As the season goes along, I would like to get him doing that.”

Helmet problem solved

In several home games this season, Jason Campbell has experienced radio problems with his helmet, forcing Zorn to yell in the plays. But Zorn said the malfunction has been solved.

“We figured it out,” Zorn said. “It seemed to go out at a certain part of the field, and we happened to be down at that certain part of the field several times. My only backup plan the other night was to scream. I started using signals at the end. The hard part is that some of the plays are extensive and there isn’t a signal for the word, so I would give Jason an indication, and he got the rest of it.”

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