- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 15, 2008

The weather was gloomy but the mood brighter Friday at Redskin Park. Cornerback Shawn Springs and linebacker Marcus Washington returned to practice and are likely to play in Sunday night’s showdown with Dallas.

The news wasn’t all good, though. Running back Clinton Portis, the NFL’s second-leading rusher, again was not able to practice because of his sprained left knee. He likely will not play Sunday.

“I have two days left,” Portis said. “I’ll be in the training room working, trying to get there. The progress has been better, but I won’t say, ‘Oh, I’m ready.’ We got till Sunday night to make the decision, so that’s when I make it.”

Springs tested his left calf in practice for the first time in four weeks, and Washington returned for the first time since he sprained his right shoulder in the Nov. 3 loss to Pittsburgh. Coach Jim Zorn said Portis remains questionable for Sunday, but he expects Springs to play for the first time since the Redskins’ Oct. 12 loss to St. Louis.

Washington, who missed two games earlier this season, is confident he won’t miss a third.

“I’m ready to go,” he said. “I’m playing.”

Backup running back Ladell Betts missed the past three games because of a sprained left knee but practiced for a third straight day Friday. He should be ready for Sunday.

“I feel pretty good,” he said. “I haven’t taken a hit, so we’ll see how it holds up, but I don’t expect a problem.”

Defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery won’t play because of the right Achilles he strained against Pittsburgh. Receiver Devin Thomas returned after an illness forced him to miss Thursday’s practice.

Not brothers-in-arms

Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas were more than teammates during the last seven of their 11 seasons together with the Miami Dolphins. The close friends became brothers-in-law when Taylor, a Pro Bowl defensive end, married the sister of Thomas, a Pro Bowl linebacker, in 2001.

The bond will be tested Sunday, when they meet as opponents for the first time. Thomas signed with Dallas in February after being cut by the Dolphins; Taylor was traded to Washington in July.

“It’s a little strange still to not see him in a Dolphins jersey,” Thomas said.

Taylor and Thomas didn’t see each other during the Sept. 28 game in Dallas because Taylor was recuperating from emergency calf surgery.

“I wanted to see him play even though it would´ve helped us if he didn´t,” Thomas said. “I hated to see him injured. It´s not just a former teammate; it´s blood.”

Taylor was a rookie when Thomas introduced his sister Katina to his new best friend.

“Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe it wasn’t,” Taylor joked. “[Katina] knows who pays the bills, but she’s also said that blood is thicker than water or money. She gets to cheer the whole game.”

Of course, Taylor won’t be cheering for Thomas against Washington’s offense.

“At this point, we’re rivals,” Taylor said. “We both understand how much is riding on this game for both teams. Our focus is on winning the game and not rekindling old friendships, but I know we’ll watch each other play.”

Taylor, 34, said he’s grateful for help from Thomas, who is a year older.

“He really made a lot of what I am as a player, learning from how professional he was, how he approached the game, prepared for the game and played the game,” said Taylor, the NFL’s active sacks leader with 118 even though he has recorded just one with the Redskins. “He means a lot more to my career than he probably knows. He’s one of those guys I always look up to.”

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